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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Information on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and frequently asked questions.

To request an accommodation under the PWFA submit an accommodation request form.

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a federal law that requires covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a qualified worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.” An undue hardship is defined as causing significant difficulty or expense.

The PWFA applies only to accommodations. Existing laws that the EEOC enforces make it illegal to fire or otherwise discriminate against workers on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

The PWFA does not replace federal, state, or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. More than 30 states and cities have laws that provide accommodations for pregnant workers.

Who is covered?

Employees and applicants who have known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. 

What are some possible accommodations for pregnant workers?

“Reasonable accommodations” are changes to the work environment or the way things are usually done at work.

The House Committee on Education and Labor Report on the PWFA provides several examples of possible reasonable accommodations including the ability to sit or drink water; receive closer parking; have flexible hours; receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest; take leave or time off to recover from childbirth; and be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless they would cause an “undue hardship” on the employer’s operations. An “undue hardship” is significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

How to Request Accommodations

Submit the following form to Human Resources: PWFA Request for Reasonable Accommodation Request Form.

Reasonable Accommodation Process

  • A PWFA Request for Reasonable Accommodation Request Form must be completed whenever an employee or applicant requests an accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The form is submitted to Human Resources. Those needing assistance completing the form should call 850.474.2694 or use the Florida Telecommunications Relay by dialing 711.
  • Medical documentation providing the following information from a healthcare professional should be provided in support of a reasonable accommodation request:
    • A diagnosis of the condition causing the need for an accommodation.
    • A prognosis of the condition causing the need for an accommodation (if it is a temporary/long-term or permanent condition).
    • How the condition affects the individual’s ability to perform the essential job duties. (A copy of your job description should be provided to your healthcare professional).
    • Recommendations for accommodating the condition from the health care professional.
  • A request for an accommodation will not be considered complete until both of the previous steps have been completed.
  • Upon receiving completed information, Human Resources will contact the employee and supervisor to discuss the essential functions of the position.
  • With the required documentation from a healthcare professional and input from the employee and the supervisor, reasonable accommodation options will be reviewed.
  • Human Resources may meet with the employee subsequently to review and discuss the possible accommodations.
  • The supervisor will review and discuss the possible accommodations with Human Resources and any appropriate supervisory authorities to make a final decision as to the accommodation.
  • Once the accommodation is in place, Human Resources will review with the employee. The supervisor, with input from the employee, will monitor the effectiveness of the accommodation. If further assistance is needed regarding the reasonable accommodation, the employee may contact Human Resources at 850.474.2694.

What other federal laws may apply to pregnant workers?

Other laws that apply to workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, include:

  • Title VII (enforced by the EEOC), which:
    • Protects an employee from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and
    • Requires covered employers to treat a worker affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as other workers similar in their ability or inability to work.
  • The ADA (enforced by the EEOC), which:
    • Protects an employee from discrimination based on disability; and
    • Requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a person with a disability if the reasonable accommodation would not cause an undue hardship for the employer.
    • While pregnancy is not a disability under the ADA, some pregnancy-related conditions may be disabilities under the law.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor), which provides covered employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.
  • The PUMP Act (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act) (enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor), which broadens workplace protections for employees to express breast milk at work.

If you are dissatisfied with a decision or feel you have been treated unfairly regarding your request for reasonable accommodation, please refer to the University Policy P-13.08-3/17 Prohibition of Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation. Any questions regarding your rights should be directed to the Equal Opportunity Coordinator at 850.474.2694.