Last month the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) to eliminate discrimination and promote women’s health and economic security by ensuring reasonable accommodations to workers limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition.
If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the PWFA would supplement the accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations unless it poses an undue hardship on the employer. Employees deemed able to perform the essential functions of their position are eligible if they are temporarily unable to perform an essential position, will be able to perform the job in the near future, and, their inability to perform the essential function can be reasonably accommodated.
Reasonable accommodations for the average employee may look like additional breaks, limiting heavy lifting, or temporary reassignment for a defined period of time. The PWFA would prohibit employers from requiring their employers to take paid or unpaid leave if accommodations are available or for employees to accept an unreasonable accommodation. Any adverse employment action – wrongful termination, failure to promote, harassment – taken against a qualified employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition is prohibited by law.
Although discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is a form of sex discrimination already prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if signed into law, the PWFA will provide clear directives regarding the steps that employers must take when a qualified employee who is pregnant requests an accommodation during a pregnancy. Many welcome the new guidance to ensure that women enjoy enhanced job security moving forward.
When you are the victim of workplace discrimination on the basis of based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin or other protected classes, contact the Davenport employment discrimination lawyers of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for immediate assistance today at 563-355-6478.