Published on: May 14, 2021
Authors: Gregory Hoff
Topics: Employment LawWith strong business community support, including HR Policy, the House of Representatives passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) (H.R. 1065), which would provide needed accommodations and protections for pregnant workers along the lines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The bipartisan support for the bill, with strong business backing, proves that bipartisan approaches to workplace policy issues are possible.
The PWFA would require employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees and job applicants. Specifically, employers would have to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, unless such accommodations create an undue hardship for employers. The reasonable accommodation standard and associated protections contemplated by the PWFA largely resemble what employers are currently required to do for employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA does not consider pregnancy a disability.
“The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act…is a balanced approach that clarifies an employer’s obligation to accommodate the known limitations of employees and job applicants that accompany pregnancy,” our letter noted. “This bipartisan bill is a strong reminder that through good faith negotiations, legislative solutions to important workplace questions and problems can be found.”
Outlook: The PWFA passed on a 315-101 bipartisan vote, and its passage in the House comes as no surprise. However, its chances of passing the Senate are less clear at the moment. The Association has been a vocal supporter of the bill as a much-needed update to employment discrimination law that effectively clarifies an employer’s accommodation obligations in accordance with already existing law.