Stacy Jensen No Comments
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was signed into law in 2022, taking effect on June 27th, 2023. The PWFA is the first federal law enforced by the EEOC that requires employers to provide accommodations for medical conditions relating to a woman’s pregnancy, absent a showing of disability. Keep in mind that Colorado has a PWFA of their own, enacted in 2016 (as do at least half of the states in the U.S.).

The federal PWFA regulations refer to current pregnancy, past pregnancy or potential and intended pregnancy, e.g., infertility, fertility treatment and contraception use. “Related medical conditions” are defined in the PWFA Regulations as medical conditions relating to pregnancy or childbirth of the specific employee seeking an accommodation. Covered related medical conditions can include complications related to the termination of the pregnancy such as miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, and post-partum complications like anxiety, depression, incontinence, menstruation and lactation. The PWFA Regulations would also include reproductive health issues that are not directly related to an actual current, or recent pregnancy.

The PWFA coverage definition is the same as the ACA (reasonable accommodations required by the employer). However, there is no requirement that such physical or mental condition substantially limit a major life activity, like the ADA. The PWFA requires accommodation of employees who may not be qualified to perform the essential functions of the job, as long as their limitation is “temporary”, and not permanent.

Accommodations might include: modifications include: (1) allowing an employee to carry or keep water near and drink, as needed; (2) allowing an employee to take additional restroom breaks, as needed; (3) allowing an employee whose work requires standing to sit and whose work requires sitting to stand, as needed; and (4) allowing an employee to take breaks to eat and drink, as needed.

It is important to understand how the federal requirements may exceed that of state and local law. Further, if you have any questions, you should reach out to a qualified HR person at InTANDEM HR for consultation.