The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: What Employees Should Know

Jul 19 2023

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda.

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh. What are we going to talk about today?

Goodbaum: I want to talk about a new federal law: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Tell us about the law — what does it do, and what do Connecticut employees need to know about it?

DeMatteis: This law was passed on June 27, 2023, and it finally makes workplace accommodations for pregnant people federal law, the new law of the land. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act protects individuals in the private or public sector who work for employers with 15 employees or more. It requires employers to provide accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions; this extends from fertility treatments in an effort to get pregnant all the way through pregnancy and postpartum recovery, including postpartum depression, which is finally something that we’re talking about much more openly.

Reasonable accommodations that might be included here are a water bottle at a workstation, maybe a stool to sit down on, more break time for those frequent bathroom trips that pregnant women are experiencing, or a flexible work schedule. So this is a great development.

This has been a long time coming for federal law. Efforts to pass this law date back all the way to 2011. So, we’re thrilled to see some positive progress.

But for Connecticut employees, this has already been what we have come to expect from the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, which is, of course, our state counterpart to numerous federal laws that protects Connecticut employees at work.

Under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee or a job applicant due to her pregnancy, childbirth, needing to breastfeed or express breast milk at work, and it also includes the added protection that an employer may not discriminate against an employee or job applicant by denying a reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy.

Connecticut protects both private and public sector workers with one or more employees. Remember I told you the new federal law is 15 or more employees — Connecticut’s protection starts at employee one.

So, super happy to see that federal law is finally catching up, but big kudos to Connecticut for really being an example of how to protect pregnant workers during all phases of pregnancy. So, really good news.

Goodbaum: Great news for Connecticut workers and workers all across the country. Thanks so much, Amanda. Take care.

DeMatteis: Thank you.

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josh goodbaum discussing the pregnant workers fairness act

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