New employment laws protecting pregnant workers and nursing mothers are set to take effect in June. Years of attempts by lawmakers to pass the protections culminated in President Biden signing the Consolidated Appropriations Act on December 29, 2022. The omnibus bill included the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act). Previous to this federal legislation, protections for pregnant workers were based on case law and varied from state to state.
The new laws affect employers with at least 15 employees and function similarly to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the PWFA, an employer must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees as long as the accommodations do not create an undue hardship. If an employee or applicant has a physical or mental condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that results in a known temporary limitation on their ability to perform the essential functions of their job, then the employer is obligated to provide reasonable accommodations. The definitions of “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship” have been adopted from the language used in the ADA. The new law also makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee or applicant because of their need for a pregnancy-related accommodation. Reasonable accommodations may include allowing extra bathroom breaks or light duty work.
The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act requires employers to provide reasonable break time to allow nursing mothers to express breast milk for their child for one year after the child is born. There must be a place provided for the employee to express milk that is shielded from view and intrusion from coworkers as stated in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The place provided cannot be a bathroom. Although rail carriers and motorcoach services are covered by the law, it exempts crew members of air carriers.
Employees should know these new protections and current policies in the workplace. Review your employer’s policy on reasonable accommodations. Employers should have a pregnancy accommodation request process in place similar to an ADA accommodation request process. Such requests must be supported by medical documentation from a health care provider. In some cities and states, employers are prohibited from asking for supporting medical documentation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for the Rights of Pregnant Workers
If you are pregnant and have been denied reasonable accommodations at your workplace for medical issues related to your pregnancy, contact our Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. right away. We will fight for you to receive fair treatment under the law. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel.