The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect on June 27, 2023. The PWFA protects pregnant employees and job applicants by filling the gaps in protections for pregnant workers under existing federal laws (Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Medical Leave Act). Specifically, the PWFA imposes broader and more widely available reasonable accommodation responsibilities for employers with 15 or more employees. On August 7, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), to implement the PWFA. On August 11, 2023, the EEOC published the NPRM for public comment in the Federal Register. The purpose of this alert is to present a high-level overview of particularly relevant considerations within the proposed regulations and highlight some potential pitfalls and protections under the PWFA of which employers should be aware. As noted above, the intention of the PWFA is to fill in gaps existing within federal legislation, while at the same time streamlining the accommodation process and making it less burdensome for workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. In essence, the PWFA aims to make pregnancy accommodations more accessible, while still preserving the spirit of the interactive accommodation process. Indeed, there are many similarities in the PWFA and the ADA interactive process. In addition, the PWFA...
New York State recently passed the Paid Family Leave Benefits Law, which is among the strongest and most comprehensive leave statutes in the country. The new law amends the State’s current disability law, and imposes obligations on employers beginning in 2018. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the NY law will provide both protected leave and paid benefits during the leave. The new law covers employers in the for-profit sector, with at least one employee, along with certain other employers in the public and not-for-profit sectors.
In Young v. UPS, the United States Supreme Court reinstated a UPS worker’s pregnancy discrimination lawsuit under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, finding that both the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had applied the wrong standard in upholding UPS’s light-duty-for-injury policy, under which the company refused a light-duty accommodation to a pregnant employee back in 2006. While the Court did not determine whether the employee suffered any actual discrimination, or whether UPS’s policy was impermissible under the PDA – those issues were remanded to the Fourth Circuit – the Court did adopt a modified version of the familiar burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas for analyzing pregnancy discrimination claims under the PDA. The Court’s decision in Young is also noteworthy in that it declined to give deference to the EEOC’s July 2014 guidance on pregnancy discrimination, which we have previously discussed, and, in fact, rejected the argument that the PDA creates “an unconditional favored nations status” for pregnant workers.
On July 14, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) — the agency responsible for the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws — issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (“the Guidance”). The Guidance primarily discusses the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also addresses additional federal laws that touch upon pregnancy and related conditions, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
On January 21, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law S2995/A4486, which amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, including recovery from childbirth, in the workplace. This measure is effective immediately. The legislation requires employers to treat women affected by pregnancy in a manner similar to employees who are not affected by pregnancy, but who share in their ability or inability to work.
On October 2, 2013, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law Int. No. 974-2012A, amending the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to prohibit discrimination in employment based on pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. The law goes into effect on January 30, 2014. It prohibits an employer from refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to the needs of an employee for her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition that will allow the employee to perform the essential requisites of the job. According to the New York City Council’s legislative findings accompanying the amendment, reasonable accommodations for an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition may include “bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, and assistance with manual labor.”
At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last month, one panel discussion focused on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) recent activity and enforcement priorities. Among the panelists were Corrado Gigante, Director of the Newark Area Office of the EEOC, and Gibbons Directors, Christine Amalfe, Kelly Ann Bird and Susan Nardone.
At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last week, one panel discussion addressed the National Labor Relation Board’s (“NLRB”) recent activity, and offered a list of topics to watch in 2013. This blog post contains the highlights from that discussion as related to employer policies. Of prime interest in our predictions for 2013 is the “recess appointment” issue. Just three weeks ago, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 25, 2013) held that three 2012 recess appointments of officers to the NLRB by President Obama were unconstitutional because they lacked the “Advice and Consent” of the Senate and were not authorized by the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause.
Pregnant employees who seek accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) need not be offered special treatment, the Fourth Circuit ruled on January 9, 2013. The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals “on the basis of disability.” The PDA, enacted in 1978, amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to specifically prohibit discrimination in employment “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”
Recent New Jersey Appellate Division Case Reminds Employers to Carefully Draft Written Communications to Employees Regarding Leaves of Absence
The New Jersey Appellate Division’s recent decision in Lapidoth v. Telcordia Techs., Inc., 2011 N.J. Super. LEXIS 103 (App. Div. June 9, 2011) serves as an important reminder that an employer must exercise care in communications with employees regarding leaves of absence to avoid unintended contractual obligations, even when the employer has complied with its statutory obligations.