[author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor]
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was recently introduced in the US Senate. +2012 S. 3565; +2012 Bill Tracking S. 3565. The proposed law would supplement the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 by requiring employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees or job applicants, as well as those limited by childbirth or related medical conditions unless the employer could show that it caused an undue hardship such as a significant difficulty or expense.
The goal of the law is to "eliminate discrimination and promote women's health and economic security by ensuring reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition." Additionally, the bill provides that it shall be unlawful:
To deny employment opportunities to a pregnant employee or applicant based on the need to make reasonable accommodations;
To require a pregnant applicant or employee to accept an accommodation that such applicant or employee chooses not to accept; or
To require a pregnant employee to take leave under any leave law or employer policy if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
The proposed law would also prohibit employers from terminating employees or taking other adverse action against them based on their pregnancy or the taking of leave for pregnancy-related reasons.
The bill also directs the EEOC to issue regulations identifying some reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act only prohibits employers from terminating pregnant employees or taking adverse actions against them, it does not currently require employers to accommodate pregnant employees. Supporters of the bill claim it is necessary because under the ADA, a normal pregnancy is not considered a disability as it is a temporary condition. Thus, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act takes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act one step further by incorporating the reasonable accommodation framework in the ADA and requiring employers to accommodate pregnant employees in much the same way by for example, providing a stool to sit or reassigning heavy lifting tasks. A companion bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives in May. +2012 H.R. 5647; +2012 Bill Tracking H.R. 5647.
Employee Management >EEO - Discrimination
Employee Leaves > FMLA
Employee Management > Disabilities (ADA)
How to Deal with a Complaint of Pregnancy Discrimination
How to Prevent Pregnancy Discrimination
How to Prevent Leave Discrimination