DBL Law – Kelly Holden – Federal Law expansion protects pregnant women

In 2022, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act), was passed as part of the $1.7 trillion government funding legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden.    The enforcement provisions of the law begin April 28, 2023. 

The Act applies to employers with greater than 50 employees.  It requires a private space to express milk that is not a bathroom.   

The PUMP Act will be enforced by the Department of Labor along with its enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and complaints can be filed with local DOL offices. 

The break time can still be unpaid for hourly workers, if pay is not otherwise required by law or contract. However, if the hourly worker is doing work while pumping, the time must be paid.   However, salaried workers should receive their full salary even if they take time to express milk during their workday. Workers have these rights for the first year after a baby is born.  

Businesses that violate the law can be liable for unpaid minimum or overtime wages, employment reinstatement and payment of wages lost, as well as potential additional damages including economic losses and punitive damages. The PUMP Act does not allow for compensatory or emotional distress damages, but employers could be liable for attorneys’ fees.

As part of the same law, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was also passed.  The PWFA extends the Americans with Disabilities Act to cover pregnant workers, which means businesses with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees.  In the past, pregnancy was not considered a disability because it is a temporary condition.   Employers will be required to engage in the interactive process.  

The PWFA goes into effect on June 27, 2023. Violations of the PWFA will be enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Both of these new laws are part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.   

Since June 27, 2019, Kentucky employers with more than 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are limited due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer to do so. The Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act amended the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA) Act and provides examples of reasonable accommodations an employer may have to provide to an employee who is limited due to her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including:

  • More frequent or longer breaks
  • Time off to recover from childbirth
  • Acquisition/modification of equipment
  • Appropriate seating
  • Temporary transfer to a different job
  • Modified schedules
  • Light duty
  • Private space, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk

Employers in Kentucky are required to have a poster on the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act.  

Many states have passed similar laws so be aware of additional local and state laws protecting pregnant workers.

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