Additional Protections Available to Pregnant and Nursing Workers

Jun 15, 2023

K|W|W is providing this update to help employers stay up to date with the specific requirements, provisions, and effective dates of new legislation that impacts the workplace. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) goes into effect June 27, 2023, and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (“PUMP”) for Nursing Mothers Act was effective earlier this year, both of which expanded protections for pregnant and nursing workers.

Here is what employers need to know:

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Existing laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, make it illegal to terminate or otherwise discriminate against employees based on childbirth, pregnancy, or associated medical conditions. The PWFA supplements these laws by requiring covered employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees based on known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The law applies to private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees but does not replace state or local laws that are more protective of workers.

The PWFA uses the familiar ADA definition of “reasonable accommodations.” According to EEOC guidance, examples of possible reasonable accommodations for qualified employees under the PWFA could include the ability to sit or drink water; closer parking; flexible hours; appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest; leave or time off to recover from childbirth; and relief from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy. After receiving a request for accommodation, an employer is required to engage in the interactive process with the employee to determine a proper accommodation. A reasonable accommodation must be provided unless it creates an undue hardship for the employer. And employers face the same high standard for demonstrating an undue hardship under the PWFA as they do under the ADA.

On June 27, 2023, the EEOC will begin taking PWFA charges. For the PWFA to apply, the situation described in the charge must have occurred on or after June 27, 2023. The PWFA provides the EEOC with the same powers and follows the same procedures provided under Title VII regarding remedies and enforcement.

Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act

The enforcement of the PWFA follows additional protections such as the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act that went into effect earlier this year. The PUMP Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act by extending adequate break time and space protections to as many as nine million more employees who were not previously covered. Primarily, the PUMP Act stated that both exempt and non-exempt employees have the right to a place to pump breast milk at work that is not a bathroom and is not visible to coworkers or the public. A previous FLSA amendment, from 2020, only granted these rights to non-exempt employees. Accommodating break time under the PUMP Act is unpaid unless the employer normally pays for break time or the employee is not fully relieved of the employee’s duties during the break.


If you have questions about the abovementioned laws, please get in touch with any K|W|W attorney. At K|W|W, your workforce is our priority.

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