Earlier this year, we shared an Employment Law Update featuring significant developments in labor and employment in 2023, including the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “PWFA”). Below is an update on the PWFA, along with a summary of another recently issued law, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act took effect on July 27, 2023 and requires employers to reasonably accommodate known worker issues arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. On August 11, 2023, the EEOC proposed a new rule under the PWFA. The proposed rule provides for an expanded definition of qualified individuals, examples of relevant medical conditions, examples of reasonable accommodations, and prohibited conduct under the PWFA.
While not an exhaustive list, the proposed rule recognized four “reasonable accommodations,” that the EEOC believes should be granted in nearly all cases. These accommodations include:
a. Allowing the employee to carry and drink water in the employee’s work area,
b. Permitting the employee to sit if the work requires standing, and permitting the employee to stand if the work requires sitting,
c. Additional breaks to use the restroom,
d. Additional breaks, as needed, to eat and drink.
The EEOC is currently reviewing public comments following the proposed rule’s 60-day public comment period, which closed on October 10, 2023.
Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”) was signed into law on December 29, 2022, as an extension of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The PUMP Act provides rights for most nursing employees to express breast milk while at work. These rights include the right to reasonable break time for pumping, as well as a shielded place for pumping (other than a restroom). Employees may take reasonable break time “each time [the] employee has a need to express the milk.” When taking breaks for expressing breast milk, employees must either be completely relieved from duty, or paid for the break time. These rights are available for up to one year after the birth of the employee’s child.
Unlike the PWFA, which applies to employers of 15 or more employees, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the break time and shielded place requirements of the PUMP Act if compliance would impose an undue hardship on an employer. Generally, an undue hardship for an employer is evaluated by weighing the difficulty or expense of compliance against the size, resources, and nature of the employer’s business.
If you have any questions about these topics or other employment law matters, please feel free to contact Ken Keller, Robert Young, Trisha Barfield, Rachel Scott Decker or another member of Carruthers & Roth’s Employment Compliance and Litigation team.