Two new federal laws, signed into law by President Biden at the end of 2022, are set to substantially improve the protections that pregnant workers have at their jobs. These two laws, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP Act, make it easier for pregnant women and those who recently gave birth to access reasonable accommodations from their employer. Together, they make it so that women no longer need to fear professional repercussions for having children.
What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a law that, when it comes into effect later this year, will require employers with fifteen or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, those who have recently given birth, and those suffering from medical complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. These accommodations are meant to help women continue working well into their pregnancy, without needing to take maternity leave. It also prevents employers from forcing women to take paid or unpaid leave if they are still able to perform their essential job functions.
What is the PUMP Act?
The PUMP Act is a law that will, once it comes into effect, require employers to provide accommodations to women who need to pump breast milk for their infants. Among other things, this means that they must be given time and facilities to pump milk, and the time spent pumping must be counted towards their work hours. Notably, these protections include all types of employees, including those not normally covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Why Are These Laws Important?
These laws are meant to help expand protections for pregnant workers, who often struggle to maintain their jobs despite existing laws. Employers are often eager to push pregnant women into maternity leave as early as possible, and women who go on leave do not always find their job is waiting for them when they are ready to return to work. With these additional requirements, employers will have far less reason to force pregnant workers to take maternity leave early, and will need to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure they can keep working as long as they are able.
How Might They Impact You?
If you are working and are either pregnant, looking to become pregnant, or you just gave birth, these laws can dramatically improve your ability to gain and maintain employment. And if you suffer discrimination, you will be able to seek compensation for any harm you suffered as a result. If you have been involved in an issue related to pregnancy discrimination, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling workplace discrimination matters, who can help you pursue your legal options.
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