In late 2022, Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP Act.  Both Acts are among a number of protections passed to address working conditions for women workers.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “Act”) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.  The Act prohibits discrimination against an employee for requesting a reasonable accommodation or requiring an employee to take paid or unpaid leave when a reasonable accommodation can be provided.  The same standards for determining a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to this Act.  The Act goes into effect June 27, 2023, and applies to all employers with 15 or more employees.

PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (the “PUMP Act”) is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and requires employers to provide nursing mothers with reasonable break time to nurse their child for one year after the child’s birth.  Employers also are required to provide a nursing/lactation area segregated from other work spaces, that is separate from the bathroom. Remedies available under the PUMP Act are the same as those previously available under the FLSA, with the exception that an employee must give an employer ten (10) days to cure any failure to provide an adequate lactation area before filing a claim. The PUMP Act applies to employers with 50 or more employees. The PUMP Act became effective December 29, 2022; however, changes to remedies available to employees who bring a claim under the PUMP Act are not effective until April 28, 2023.

The PUMP Act does not apply in its entirety to air, rail and motor coach industries.  

Intersection with State Laws

Many states already have laws that provide similar, if not more, protections for pregnant or nursing employees.  State laws that provide more protections are not superseded by the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act or the PUMP Act and employers must ensure they comply with both sets of laws.

The key takeaway for employers is to ensure that employment policies and practices are updated to provide accommodations for pregnant and nursing mothers.