PUMP Act and Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Passed into Law
By: Jacqueline C. Gerrald, Partner, McLaughlin & Stern, LLP
On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed both the PUMP Act and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into law. These two laws, combined, help to greatly expand the employment rights of women across the country, increasing the legal protections they receive while pregnant or nursing. Here is what you need to know about the PUMP Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and how it might impact you:
The PUMP Act
The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, also known as the PUMP Act for short, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by expanding federal protections to employees who need to pump breast milk while working to include salaried employees who were normally exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Act requires employers to provide accommodations to employees to pump breast milk for up to one year after the birth of the employee’s nursing child, and requires employers to count time spent pumping as time spent working for the purposes of compensation if the employee is not completely relieved from duty during such break. Employers who fail to comply with these requirements have ten days after being notified of their failure to comply before the employee can make a claim of liability against them. There are some exceptions to the law, including an employer that employs fewer than 50 employees, if such requirements would impose an undue hardship to the business, and for employers of air carriers. Certain portions of the PUMP Act are effective immediately (eg. expanding employee access to break and space) but the remedies provisions will not take effective until April 28, 2023.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act increases the legal protections available to qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The Act requires employers with more than fifteen employees to provide reasonable accommodations to such employees to help them do their work. The statute prohibits a covered employer from failing to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations of such employee absent an undue hardship It is also unlawful for an employer to require the employee to accept an accommodation other than one arrived at through an interactive process, to deny employment opportunities based on such employee’s need for a reasonable accommodation, or to require the employee to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided,. The employer is also prohibited from taking adverse action against such employee for requesting or using a reasonable accommodation. The Act also prohibits immunity of a state under the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution from an action for a violation of the Act. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will become effective on June 27, 2023.
A Comparison to State Law
It should be noted that many states already have existing protections for pregnant workers. In New York, for example, it is already illegal under the New York State Human Rights Law § 296.1 for any employer with more than four employees to discriminate against a pregnant worker, or to refuse to hire someone because they are pregnant. Also, New York State Labor Law Section 206-c requires all employers to provide mothers who are nursing with break time to pump or express breast milk at work in a private room or location for up to three years following a child’s birth.
If you have any questions regarding the recent legislation or other matters involving Employment Law, please contact the Chairs of the McLaughlin & Stern, Employment Law Group, Steven J. Hyman (https://www.mclaughlinstern.com/attorneys/steven-j-hyman/) and/or Jacqueline C. Gerrald (https://www.mclaughlinstern.com/attorneys/jacqueline-c-gerrald/).