Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants with limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause undue hardship to the employer’s operations.
An employee or applicant may request an accommodation due to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition by submitting the request in writing to Human Resources (HR). The accommodation request should include an explanation of the pregnancy-related limitations, the accommodation needed and any alternative accommodation(s) that might be reasonable. Depending on the nature of the accommodation, the individual may be requested to submit a statement from a health care provider substantiating the need for the accommodation.
Upon receipt of a request for accommodation, HR will contact the employee or applicant to discuss the request and determine if an accommodation is reasonable and can be provided without significant difficulty or expense, i.e., undue hardship.
While the reasonableness of each accommodation request will be individually assessed, possible accommodations include allowing the individual to:
- Sit while working
- Drink water during the workday
- Receive closer-in parking
- Have flexible hours
- Receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel
- Receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat and rest
- Take time off to recover from childbirth
- Be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds deemed unsafe during pregnancy
- An employee may request paid or unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation under this policy; however, the employer will not require an employee to take time off if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that will allow the employee to continue to work.
The University of Memphis prohibits any retaliation, harassment or adverse action due to an individual's request for an accommodation under this policy or for reporting or participating in an investigation of unlawful discrimination under this policy.
Other laws that apply to workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, include:
- Title VII (enforced by the EEOC): Protects an employee from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and requires covered employers to treat a worker affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as other workers similar in their ability or inability to work.
- The ADA (enforced by the EEOC): Protects an employee from discrimination based on disability; and requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a person with a disability if the reasonable accommodation would not cause an undue hardship for the employer. While pregnancy is not a disability under the ADA, some pregnancy-related conditions may be disabilities under the law.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor): Provides covered employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.
- The PUMP Act (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act) (enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor): Broadens workplace protections for employees to express breast milk at work.