The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will take effect on April 1, 2018. Notification of this law needs to be given to employees by January 1, 2018. PWFA adds pregnancy or any condition related to pregnancy and lactation to the list of protected classes under the Commonwealth’s anti-discrimination act. It is important that employers be aware of the new provisions, as there are various handbook updates and potential workplace accommodations that may need to be made.
Currently both state and federal law prohibit the discrimination “because or on the basis of pregnancy.” These laws require that pregnant women are treated equally for employment related purposes. The PWFA takes this a step further and makes it illegal to deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy. The law also states that employers cannot deny any employment opportunity, such as promotion, transfers, etc. or refuse to hire a pregnant applicant because of pregnancy.
Employers should update your handbook and policies to comply with the law’s new requirement. PWFA requires that you provide notice to your employees of their right to be free from pregnancy discrimination by January 1, 2018. The law also requires you to distribute revised handbooks and policies to all new employees at the beginning of their employment or before they begin, and again to an employee within 10 days’ notification to you that she is pregnant or has a condition related to pregnancy.