Quick Summary of the PWFA
Who it applies to
All employers with at least 15 employees
Reasonable accommodations, equal treatment, protection against retaliation
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The PWFA is a landmark law that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and those who have recently given birth. This law seeks to ensure that pregnant workers can continue to work without risking their health or the health of their baby. This provision applies unless the accommodation causes the employer undue hardship.
Your Rights Under PWFA
The PWFA provides pregnant workers with several key rights. These rights provide equal opportunities and protection for expectant mothers in the workforce. They include
- Right to Reasonable Accommodation: Your employer must provide accommodations unless it would cause undue hardship. These can range from more frequent breaks to temporary assignment to less strenuous or hazardous work.
- Right to Equal Treatment: Your employer cannot discriminate against you due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. You must be treated the same as other employees who are not pregnant but are similar in their ability or inability to work.
- Right to Protection Against Retaliation: You are protected from retaliation for requesting reasonable accommodation.
- Right to a Safe and Healthy Work Environment: Your employer must ensure you have a safe and healthy working environment during your pregnancy.
- Right to Maintain Health Insurance Coverage: If you have health insurance from your employer, they must maintain your coverage during any period of leave related to your pregnancy.
Requesting Accommodation Under PWFA
As a pregnant employee, you can request reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of your job. Accommodations can take many forms, such as
- Physical Changes: Adjustable desks, better seating, or permission to bring a water bottle into a work area where drinks are usually prohibited.
- Schedule Adjustments: Additional bathroom breaks, breaks to rest or eat, flexible scheduling to accommodate doctor's appointments.
- Job Restructuring: Temporary reassignment of non-essential duties, allowing more time to complete tasks, or shifting to lighter duty or desk work.
Quote from the PWFA
An employer shall provide reasonable accommodations to job applicants or employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
Enforcement of PWFA
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing the PWFA. If you believe your employer has violated your rights under the PWFA, you can file a complaint with the EEOC. Remember, the law protects you from retaliation for reporting violations or requesting accommodations.
The Bottom Line
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a significant step towards ensuring a safe, comfortable, and fair working environment for expectant mothers. Familiarize yourself with your rights, communicate with your employer, and don't hesitate to stand up for the protections granted to you by the law.
A Better Balance
Remember, you have rights, and you're not alone. Stay informed, stay empowered, and let the PWFA work for you.