Navigating the New Landscape: Understanding the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and New Hampshire Law

On June 27, 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect. The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Employers may not be required to do so if such accommodation would cause the employe an “undue hardship.”

Private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations are all “covered employers.”

Employers cannot (1) require an employee to accept an accommodation without first having a discussion between the employer and employee; (2) deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for reasonable accommodation; or (3) require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working. Interference with any individual’s rights under the PWFA, or retaliation against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA proceeding, are also prohibited.

While other existing laws make it illegal to discriminate against workers on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, the PWFA expands existing rights to include reasonable accommodation.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has begun accepting charges of discrimination under the PWFA for incidents that occurred on or after June 27, 2023.

New Hampshire law provides additional rights to pregnant workers. Under RSA 354-A:7, VI, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated in the same manner as any employee affected by any other temporary disability, and an employer must permit a female employee to take a leave of absence for the period of temporary physical disability resulting from pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. When the employee is physically able to return to work, her original job or a comparable position shall be made available to her by the employer unless business necessity makes this impossible or unreasonable.

If you are an employee or an employer with questions or concerns regarding your rights or responsibilities under the PWFA and NH law, please reach out to an Upton & Hatfield, LLP attorney today.

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