The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act extends important and timely protections to pregnant employees. This law helps ensure pregnant workers receive fair treatment and the accommodations they need during their pregnancies.
Understanding the provisions of this act benefits employees by helping them understand their rights. It applies to American employers with at least 15 employees.
Accommodations for pregnant workers
The main purpose of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is to ensure that pregnant employees receive reasonable accommodations at work. This means that if a pregnant worker faces limitations due to her pregnancy, employers must provide necessary adjustments to allow the employee to perform her job.
The Act defines “reasonable accommodations” as modifications or adjustments that allow pregnant employees to continue working without risking their health or the health of their unborn child. Such accommodations may include adjusted work hours or improved seating. They might also include more frequent breaks or changes to job duties.
Protection from discrimination
Under this law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against pregnant workers due to pregnancy or the need for reasonable accommodations. Employers also cannot take adverse actions due to a pregnancy or pregnancy-related request for accommodations. They cannot, for example, fire or demote an employee due to pregnancy.
Protection from retaliation
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act also prohibits employers from retaliating against pregnant employees who take certain steps. Employers may not take adverse action against workers who request accommodations. They also may not retaliate against workers who assert their rights under the law.
Estimates suggest that about 70% of American women work during the year they become pregnant. Thus, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act affects and applies to a significant part of the workforce.