pregnancy reasonable accommodations federal employees

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a relatively new measure that aims to protect workers from discrimination and ensure they receive reasonable accommodations to perform their job duties while pregnant.

The law prohibits employers from treating pregnant employees less favorably than others and requires them to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and other related conditions. These accommodations can include modified tasks, alternative assignments, or leave if needed. 

Understanding your rights as a pregnant federal employee can help ensure you receive fair treatment, accommodations, and support during your pregnancy while continuing to perform your job duties effectively. Here, our federal pregnancy discrimination lawyers explore the laws protecting workers and take a closer look at reasonable accommodations for pregnant federal employees.

Please don’t hesitate to reach us online or call (800) 801-0598 today for a consultation.

Is Pregnancy a Disability Under the ADA?

Pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, pregnancy-related impairments may qualify as disabilities if they substantially limit one or more major life activities. The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment.

The Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities unless it would cause undue hardship for the company.

Employees who develop impairments related to pregnancy that meet the ADA’s definition of a disability may be entitled to reasonable accommodations. These modifications must be provided as long as they do not impose undue hardship on the employer.

However, the urgent nature of pregnancy accommodations means that employers need to respond to requests promptly. A long, drawn-out application process can render accommodations useless, so Congress addressed these issues by issuing the PWFA. The effective date of this Act was June 27, 2023.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers

Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments to a job or work environment that allow a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job.

While pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the PWFA requires employers to provide pregnancy work accommodations in the same way they would for employees with other temporary disabilities. 

Examples of workplace accommodations for pregnancy include:

  • Providing a stool or chair for a pregnant employee who must stand for long periods;
  • Allowing more frequent breaks or allowing the employee to sit when needed;
  • Modifying work duties that are physically strenuous or pose a risk to the pregnancy, such as lifting heavy objects;
  • Providing temporary reassignment to less physically demanding tasks; and 
  • Adjusting work schedules or allowing telecommuting options.

Workplaces design these accommodations to ensure that pregnant employees can continue to work safely and effectively throughout their pregnancy, but this is not a complete list. For more examples, see the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s regulations clarifying provisions in the PWFA, which was released in April 2024 and contains numerous examples to illustrate such accommodations for employers.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations Under the PWFA

Requesting reasonable accommodations as a pregnant federal employee under the PWFA should be a straightforward process. 

Here’s a general outline of how the process typically works.

  • Process for requesting accommodations. In writing, inform your supervisor or human resources (HR) department about your need for accommodations. Be specific about the accommodations you are requesting and how they will help you perform your job duties.
  • Find your contact person. To initiate the accommodations process, first contact your agency’s HR department or designated disabilities coordinator. They will guide you through the process and provide the necessary forms or documentation.
  • Timelines and deadlines. There is no specific timeline for requesting accommodations under the PWFA. However, it is advisable to make your request as soon as you become aware of your need for accommodations to allow sufficient time for processing.
  • Documentation. While the PWFA does not require specific documentation to support your request, it may be helpful to provide medical documentation or a statement from your healthcare provider explaining your needs.

The PWFA emphasizes the flexible nature of the accommodations process, aiming to make it easier for pregnant employees to seek and receive the support they need.

Communication with your employer is key. But, in response to such communications, your employer must engage in an interactive process to determine the appropriate accommodations for your situation.

Trust Pines Federal to Protect Your Rights

If you are a federal employee and have questions about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, contact us.

We represent federal employees in all types of employment law claims and have decades of combined experience fighting for federal employee rights.

Call us at (800) 801-0598 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a consultation.