The PWFA requires a covered employer (with 15 or more employees) to provide reasonable accommodations for a qualified employee’s or applicant’s known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause an undue hardship on the operation of the business.

  • A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an affected applicant or employee to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. 
  • An undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of a number of factors.

Some Accommodations Are Presumptively Reasonable
The following accommodations for pregnant employees are presumed to be reasonable, meaning an employer will need an exceptionally good rationale for denying them based on undue hardship:

  1. Allowing an employee to carry or keep water near and drink, as needed.
  2. Allowing an employee to take additional restroom breaks, as needed.
  3. Allowing an employee whose work requires standing to sit and whose work requires sitting to stand, as needed.
  4. Allowing an employee to take breaks to eat and drink, as needed.

Requests for Documentation Are Limited
Employers can only ask for documentation to support a request for accommodation when it’s reasonable under the circumstances. Blanket policies that automatically require documentation aren’t permitted. When collecting documentation is permitted, employers can only request the minimum amount that confirms the employee’s condition, verifies that it’s related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition, and describes the adjustment that the employee needs.

Employers Can’t Require “Magic Words” or Special Forms
An employee’s request for accommodation can be made orally, in writing, or by any other effective means. Employers can’t require that it be in a specific format or use specific language for them to acknowledge the request. Employers also can’t require that supporting documentation be on a specific form.

Accommodations Should Be Provided Without Delay
Once an employee makes a request for accommodation, the employer should do their best to provide it (or an interim accommodation) as soon as possible, even if supporting documentation will ultimately be required.