What to Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) in Texas

The long-awaited Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect Tuesday, June 27, 2023. This exciting new law will increase protections for many pregnant workers who previously may not have been entitled to reasonable accommodations related to their pregnancy under other federal laws.

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

The PWFA requires “covered employers” to provide “reasonable accommodations” to an employee’s known limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the employer can prove “undue hardship” due to such accommodations.

Currently, it is illegal to fire or otherwise discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions under existing laws that the EEOC enforces. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will apply only to accommodations.

Who are “covered employers” in Texas?

“Covered employers” include private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations. If you are unsure if you are protected, contact an employment lawyer.

What accommodations are required in Texas under the new law?

The EEOC has yet to publish a list of mandated accommodations. Examples could include longer breaks, more flexible hours, time off for medical appointments, closer parking spots, access to appropriately sized uniforms and/or safety apparel, reassignments to roles with less toxin exposure or heavy lifting, additional break times, ability to sit or drink water, etc.

Is the EEOC accepting charges under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

The EEOC will start accepting charges under the PWFA on June 27, 2023. For the PWFA to apply, the situation must have happened on June 27, 2023, or later.

What should you do if you feel you have not been provided reasonable accommodations and you are pregnant, postpartum, or have a related medical condition?

1. Document your experience and situation. Take notes of dates, times, conversations, and accommodations
2. Contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible to understand both your rights as well as course of action.

What other laws apply to pregnant employees in Texas?

Federal laws that apply to employees who are affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions include:

  • Title VII
    • EEOC enforced
    • Protects an employee from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
    • Requires covered employers to treat affected employees equal to other employees regardless of their ability or inability to work.
  • The American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • EEOC enforced
    • Protects an employee from discrimination based on disability
    • Requires reasonable accommodations to a person with a disability if the accommodation would not cause an undue hardship for the employer
    • Pregnancy is not a disability under the ADA; however, some pregnancy-related conditions may be disabilities under the law
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • U.S. Department of Labor enforced
    • Provides covered employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons
  • The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act)
    • U.S. Department of Labor enforced
    • Broadens workplace protections for employees to express breast milk at work

In Texas, the laws related to pregnancy discrimination largely mirror the Federal laws.

If you have questions or believe you have been discriminated against or have not been provided reasonable accommodations during your pregnancy, contact Ross Scalise Employment Lawyers today to understand your rights.

Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers is committed to helping workers by upholding the law and holding companies accountable for their actions. If your employer has discriminated against you, harassed you, retaliated against you for complaining about illegal actions, stolen your wages, or otherwise wronged you, take a stand. You can start by talking to a seasoned Austin employment lawyer at our firm today.