Pregnant Worker in the Office
By IHPL - June 17, 2024

In a stride towards greater workplace equity and support for expectant mothers in the workplace, the US Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) on December 29, 2022.1 Since its enactment, the PWFA has gone through various steps before it could fully take effect. Following its official implementation on June 27, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its notice of proposed rulemaking on August 11, 2023, accepted comments from the public, and finalized its regulations on April 15, 2024.2 These regulations, which will take effect on June 18, 2024, mandate the employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees or applicants facing limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.2 The PWFA addresses gaps in existing federal legal protections such as those provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,3 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),4 and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).5

Under Title VII, pregnant workers may request workplace modifications; however, such accommodations are often granted only if they can prove disparate treatment or identify similarly situated employees. The ADA offers accommodations for pregnancy-related disabilities but does not include pregnancy itself. The FMLA provides unpaid leave; however, employees must meet certain requirements in order to be entitled to the FMLA leave and it also lacks provisions for reasonable accommodations to support workers remaining on the job. These limitations prompted the need for the PWFA, which aligns coverage and accommodation standards with existing civil rights laws, ensuring pregnant workers’ rights are protected.2

The PWFA covers a broad range of reasonable accommodations, including job restructuring, modified work schedules, more frequent breaks, equipment and uniform modifications, and temporary suspension of essential job functions. It extends coverage to uncomplicated pregnancies and related medical conditions, offering support to pregnant workers facing various health challenges.6 Additionally, the PWFA’s list of accommodations provides flexibility for employers to meet their workers’ needs effectively.

The importance of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers cannot be overstated, particularly for economic security and health outcomes. With women comprising a significant portion of the workforce7 and many working late into their pregnancies, accommodations are vital to prevent adverse choice between work and health. Moreover, the lack of accommodations disproportionately affects low-wage workers and exacerbates disparities in maternal health outcomes, especially for women of color.8

Voluntary compliance is crucial for the PWFA’s effectiveness, emphasizing open communication between workers and employers to facilitate accommodation requests. Employers must recognize and respond promptly to requests, engaging in an interactive process to identify suitable accommodations. This proactive approach will minimize the need for litigation and foster a supportive work environment for pregnant workers.

In conclusion, the PWFA represents a monumental achievement in advancing workplace equity and protecting the well-being of pregnant workers across the nation. By providing comprehensive coverage and reasonable accommodations, the PWFA promotes economic stability, health, and equality for all workers, regardless of pregnancy or related medical conditions.

Author Bio:

Hyeon Park Profile Photo

Hyeon Park, MD

Dr. Park is a resident physician at Loma Linda University Health. She attained her medical degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Before pursuing medicine, she attended Union College, NE where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art. Her professional focus centers on women’s health, and she is dedicated to addressing the needs of underserved populations both locally and globally.


  1. H.R. 1065 – Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.,childbirth%2C%20or%20related%20medical%20conditions
  2. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “What you should know about the pregnant workers fairness act.”
  3. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
  4. The Americans with Disabilities Act.
  5. The Family and Medical Leave Act.
  6. Federal Registar. “Implementation of the pregnant workers fairness act.”
  7. U.S. Census Bureau. Table B13012 (2022): Women 16 to 50 years who had a birth in the past 12 months by marital status and labor force status.
  8. Kate Kennedy-Moulton et al., Maternal and Infant Health Inequality: New Evidence from Linked Administrative Data, Working Paper No. 30693.