Pregnant workers may receive workplace accommodations

| Sep 29, 2020 | Workplace discrimination |

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires workplace accommodations for workers with disabilities. However, federal law does not require accommodations for pregnant workers.   The US House of Representative recently addressed this by passing the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act. If enacted, the PWFA would help prevent employment discrimination by requiring that most employers provide these reasonable accommodations.

Pregnancy discrimination

Research by the House Committee on Education and Labor indicates that 62 percent of workers witnessed pregnancy discrimination at work. This discrimination occurs through losing a job, denial of a reasonable accommodation, or not being hired.

Pregnancy discrimination can be especially harmful to Black and Latina employees who are heavily employed in low-wage and physically demanding jobs. Pregnant women have been more likely to be hospitalized in the recent pandemic.

Current federal laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act provide some protections to pregnant workers against some forms of discrimination. But no existing federal law provides an explicit and affirmative guarantee that all pregnant workers have the right to a reasonable accommodation that allows them to continue working without threatening their pregnancy.

PWFA protections

The PWFA, if it becomes law, will provide additional protections. Private sector employers with over 15 employees and public sector employers would have to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and job applicants if the accommodation does not cause an undue hardship on the employer.

It would also prohibit retaliation against pregnant employees for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Employers cannot deny employment opportunities to these employees or require them to take leave if there is another reasonable accommodation.

PWFA has remedies for violations. These include lost pay, compensatory damages, and attorney fees.

Status

After House passage, this measure was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Business community, civil rights groups and employment and labor organizations are among the hundreds of groups have endorsed this legislation.

Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act

The KPWA provides worker protections governing employers with at least 15 employees  Employers must provide a reasonable accommodation for employees with pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions under this state law. Accommodations include more or longer breaks, leave to recover from childbirth, acquiring or modifying equipment, appropriate seating, temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous job, restricting a job, light duty, a modified schedule and furnishing a private space for expressing milk other than a bathroom.

An attorney can help you protect your employment rights under Kentucky and federal laws. Legal representation may also help you pursue compensation and damages and seek relief in the right forum.