If you are an Ohio employer who has not heard of the PUMP Act or Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, now is a good time to become educated. The enforcement provisions of the PUMP Act took effect on April 28, 2023, and the enforcement provisions of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act take effect on June 27, 2023. These Acts significantly change employers’ obligations regarding pregnant and nursing employees.
The PUMP Act
The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”) amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to expand nursing mothers’ rights to breastfeeding accommodations in the workplace. The PUMP Act applies to all employers but carves out a small business exception for employers with fewer than 50 employees if the requirements pose an undue hardship on the employer. One of the major ways the PUMP Act expands protections for nursing mothers is by providing the rights to exempt employees under the FLSA. Previously, protections for nursing mothers applied only to non-exempt employees.
The PUMP Act provides a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk for a 1-year period. Additionally, it requires an employer to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. Employers do not have to compensate the employee for such break time, unless otherwise required by state or local law. However, if an employee is not entirely relieved from duty during such break time, the time is compensable.
Employees have a private cause of action for violations of the PUMP Act but must give employers a 10-day notice of noncompliance, during which time the employer may come into compliance to avoid liability. Employers are not subject to this safe harbor if they retaliate against an employee for exercising rights under the PUMP Act or indicate they have no intention of complying.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) requires covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to pregnant employees for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the reasonable accommodations would cause an “undue hardship” on the employer’s operations. Employers are covered by the PWFA if they have 15 or more employees.
The PWFA applies an interactive process framework to pregnancy similar to the framework the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to disabilities. Reasonable accommodations under the PWFA may include the ability to sit or drink water, receive closer parking, receive an appropriately sized uniform, receive additional break time to use the bathroom, take leave to recover from childbirth, etc.
The PWFA is a departure from the way pregnancy has been treated in the workplace in the past. In Ohio, while employers always had the obligation to treat pregnant individuals the same as co-workers who are not pregnant, the PWFA imposes an affirmative duty on employers to engage with pregnant workers to discuss necessary accommodations throughout pregnancy and while recovering from childbirth.
Cavitch Employment Attorneys Can Help with PUMP Act and PWFA Compliance
If you have questions about how your obligations as an employer change as a result of the PUMP Act and PWFA, contact Cavitch Employment Attorneys Max E. Dehn and Madilyn M. Maruna at 216-621-7860 or [email protected], [email protected].