New Pregnancy and Nursing Laws Provide More Protection for New Parents

In December 2022, President Biden signed into law two important pieces of legislation: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act). These laws significantly enhance the rights and protections for pregnant, postpartum and nursing employees in the workplace.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) came into effect on June 27 and applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It mandates that employers engage in an interactive process with pregnant and postpartum applicants and employees and make reasonable accommodations for known limitations resulting from pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, unless it poses an undue hardship on the employer. The PWFA prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities or taking adverse actions against employees who request or use accommodations. It also provides protection against retaliation.

The PWFA goes beyond previous federal law by more broadly defining “qualified employee” and “reasonable accommodations” compared to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). It also covers a wider range of physical or mental conditions related to pregnancy, offering pregnant and postpartum employees greater opportunities to seek accommodations. The PWFA requires employers to consider alternative accommodations rather than mandating leave.

Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act)

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide both nonexempt and exempt employees with reasonable break time and private space for expressing breast milk for up to one year after childbirth. The PUMP Act expands the FLSA's protections to nearly all employees, covering an estimated 9 million additional employees, including salaried workers.

The PUMP Act offers remedies for employees in cases of retaliation and violations of the reasonable break time and space requirements. Covered employees have the right to seek monetary remedies such as reinstatement, promotion, lost wages, liquidated damages, compensatory damages and punitive damages.

As these new laws come into effect, employers should review and update their policies to ensure compliance with both federal and applicable state laws. If your workplace violates the PWFA or PUMP Act, contact a knowledgeable whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group right away.