Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Protections, Legal Remedies, Examples

What Is the Pregnant Employees Equity Act?

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate towards pregnant employees by failing to make affordable lodging that might permit these employees to carry out the important features of their job. It was signed into legislation by President Biden, as a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, on Dec. 29, 2022.

Particularly, Part 103 of the act makes it unlawful to:

  • Fail to fairly accommodate recognized limitations of pregnant workers except the lodging would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s enterprise operations.
  • Require a pregnant worker to just accept an lodging aside from one arrived at by means of an interactive course of.
  • Deny employment based mostly on the employer’s have to make affordable lodging to a pregnant worker.
  • Require a pregnant worker to take paid or unpaid go away if one other affordable lodging may be offered.
  • Take antagonistic motion in phrases, situations, or privileges of employment towards a pregnant worker requesting or utilizing affordable lodging.

The legislation establishes enforcement procedures and treatments that cowl various kinds of workers in relation to illegal employment practices. It features a provision requiring examples of affordable lodging to be offered to pregnant employees and prohibits state immunity from provisions of the legislation. It goes into impact on June 27, 2023.

Key Takeaways

  • The Pregnant Employees Equity Act requires employers to make affordable lodging to certified employees except doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer.
  • The act was signed into legislation on Dec. 29, 2022, and takes impact on June 27, 2023.
  • Below Part 103 of the brand new legislation, employers could not refuse to accommodate limitations; require acceptance of a noninteractive course of lodging; deny employment; require go away; or take antagonistic motion towards a certified worker or applicant.

Understanding the Pregnant Employees Equity Act

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act—very similar to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (ADA)—legally obligates employers to make affordable lodging to eligible employees. The exception: if doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer.

The time period “affordable lodging” contains making current services readily accessible; restructuring job schedules; reassignment; or modification of kit.

The time period “undue hardship” contains any motion requiring important problem or expense to the employer. It considers the character and value of the lodging, the general monetary assets of the enterprise, and the kind of operation of the enterprise.

The act applies to employers with 15 or extra workers. It requires them to supply affordable lodging for certified workers and job candidates who’ve limitations resulting from being pregnant, childbirth, or different associated situations.

Small companies with fewer than 15 workers are exempt from the Pregnant Employees Equity Act.

An worker or job applicant is taken into account eligible if, with an affordable lodging, they will carry out the important features of their job or potential job. Even when a person is briefly unable to carry out an important perform, they’re nonetheless eligible if the perform may be carried out within the close to future and their incapacity to carry out the important perform may be fairly accommodated.

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act, just like the ADA, incorporates an interactive course of. This consists of a good-faith dialogue between employer and worker/applicant to aim to determine an affordable lodging.

Below the brand new legislation, employers could not require an worker or applicant to just accept an lodging that was not arrived at by means of the interactive course of.

An employer could not require an worker to take paid or unpaid go away if one other affordable lodging may be offered. Retaliation towards an worker or applicant for requesting an affordable lodging can also be prohibited.

Below earlier federal legislation, courts didn’t think about being pregnant a incapacity entitled to an affordable lodging underneath the ADA. As an alternative, employers have been solely required to supply affordable lodging when a person’s being pregnant, childbirth, or associated medical situation rose to the extent of a incapacity underneath the ADA—or when lodging have been made for different equally located, however nonpregnant, employees.

Authorized Treatments for Violations of the Act

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act establishes that violations of Part 103 of the act represent illegal employment practices. For personal-sector workers, it tracks the enforcement powers, procedures, and treatments established underneath the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Public-sector workers have comparable protections by means of the Congressional Accountability Act, Title V of the US Code, and the Authorities Worker Rights Act of 1991.

Below these statutes, a court docket could award misplaced pay, curiosity, compensatory damages, punitive damages, prices, affordable attorneys’ charges, and consultants’ charges to the extent that such aid is offered underneath the legislation.

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act additionally prohibits retaliation towards people who specific opposition to acts or practices made illegal by the legislation. It prohibits coercion, intimidation, threats, or interference with people who’ve exercised, or have aided or inspired one other to train, their rights underneath the act. The identical treatments and procedures for violations of Part 103 apply to claims of retaliation or coercion.

Examples of Affordable Lodging

The act requires the Equal Employment Alternative Fee (EEOC) to supply examples of affordable lodging that might be supplied by employers with respect to the legislation. These may embrace:

  • Offering further restroom breaks
  • Decreasing lifting necessities
  • Offering go away for an worker who doesn’t qualify for go away underneath the Household and Medical Go away Act (FMLA)
  • Offering totally different workplace gear (e.g., offering a stool for an worker who sometimes is required to face)
  • Mild responsibility, or assist with handbook labor and lifting
  • Short-term switch to a much less bodily demanding or safer place
  • Altering a uniform or costume code, like permitting the carrying of maternity pants

Examples of Undue Hardship on Employers

Undue hardship relies on components like the price of lodging and the employer’s monetary assets. Examples of potential undue hardship may embrace:

  • Price for a small enterprise to briefly switch a employee to a light-duty place
  • State of affairs during which lodging diminishes effectivity in different jobs or infringes on different workers’ job rights or advantages
  • An lodging that impairs office security
  • An lodging that causes different employees to hold the accommodated worker’s share of hazardous or burdensome work
  • When a proposed lodging conflicts with one other legislation

What authorized treatments can be found underneath the Pregnant Employees Equity Act?

A court docket could award misplaced pay, curiosity, compensatory damages, punitive damages, prices, affordable attorneys’ charges, and consultants’ charges to the extent that such aid is offered underneath the legislation.

Can I be required to take unpaid go away whereas I’m pregnant?

Below the Pregnant Employees Equity Act, which turns into efficient on June 27, 2023, you is probably not required to take unpaid (or paid) go away if one other affordable lodging is offered.

What’s an instance of an undue hardship on an employer underneath the Pregnant Employees Equity Act?

Undue hardship might be an lodging requiring the employer to briefly transfer a warehouse employee to gentle responsibility when there isn’t enough work to justify the price.

The Backside Line

The aim of the Pregnant Employees Equity Act is to guard beforehand unprotected pregnant employees. The explanation: Being pregnant isn’t thought-about a incapacity underneath the Individuals with Disabilities Act (ADA). It addresses the short-term nature of being pregnant and the necessity to present affordable lodging to pregnant employees on a brief foundation.

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act supplies authorized treatments for certified employees impacted by violations of the legislation. It additionally ensures employers will not be adversely financially affected on account of offering lodging to employees. The important thing to attaining steadiness within the software of the brand new legislation is the requirement that each employee and employer observe an interactive course of. This contains good-faith discussions to achieve an affordable lodging that serves each events pretty.

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