By Samantha J. Wood

On June 27, 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) will go into effect.  This law, which was previously discussed here, extends the protections for pregnant workers by requiring employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and prohibits employment practices that discriminate against qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The Act makes it unlawful for employers to take any of the following adverse actions:

  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations to known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee, unless such accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business;
  • Require a qualified employee to accept an accommodation other than a reasonable accommodation arrived at through an interactive process;
  • Deny employment opportunities to the employee if such denial is based on the need to make reasonable accommodations;
  • Require the employee to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would enable the employee to continue working; or
  • Take an adverse employment action against the employee because the employee requested or used a reasonable accommodation.

The EEOC has issued FAQs and a workplace poster, which are available here. The EEOC will begin accepting charges under the PWFA on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

Also, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (“PUMP”) Act, which was signed into law at the same time as the PWFA, went into effect on December 29, 2022. This law expanded workplace protections for employees who need to express breast milk following the birth of a child by requiring employers to provide to both exempt and non-exempt employees reasonable time to express breast milk in a private location other than a bathroom. The PUMP Act applies to all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, regardless of the size of their businesses. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are only exempt from the requirements of the PUMP Act if they can demonstrate that compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released guidance on the PUMP Act, which is available here.

Covered employers must post a notice explaining employee’s rights under the PUMP Act.  The Wage and Hour Division has published an updated FLSA poster that reflects current pump at work requirements.

Employers should update their policies, procedures, and postings and advise management of these changes to ensure immediate compliance with these laws.