By Barry L. Chaet, Esq. – Beck, Chaet, Bamberger & Polsky, S.C.
The Hospitality industry relies heavily on female employees, many of whom are of child-bearing age. Recently, on December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law two laws that have expanded the rights and protections to those employees who become pregnant. These two laws provide pregnant employees with the ability to remain in the workplace during their pregnancy and protects their ability to return to work post-pregnancy and rights pertaining to breast feeding. The first is the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (the PWFA), which goes into effect on June 29, 2023. The second is the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, which goes into effect immediately. The enforcement provision’s effective date is April 28, 2023.
The PWFA focus is on protecting the pregnant employee. The PWFA applies to employers with 15 or more employees (like Title VII) and requires employers to provide reasonable, temporary accommodations to pregnant employees with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions so employees can perform the essential functions of their job during their pregnancy. Examples accommodations include providing additional bathroom breaks, lifting restrictions, permitting food and water at a workstation, providing a chair or stool to reduce an employee’s time on their feet, and a separate place to work to reduce exposure to COVID-19 or RSV. Employers must work with employees and engage in an interactive process with pregnant employees who request an accommodation.
PUMP focus is protecting employee who need to “pump breast milk” while they are at work. It applies to those employees with 50 or more employees (like FLSA) to provide reasonable break time for all employees for pumping breast milk for a period of 2 years. Under PUMP, employers are required to (1) provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for such employee’s nursing child for 2 years after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and (2) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
Employers are also required to compensate employees who take such breaks if the employee is working during the break or if they are not “completely relieved from duty” during the breaks. The enactment of PUMP extends federal laws pertaining to nursing mothers to all employees -- hourly and salaried employees exempt from overtime under the FLSA.
Employers that employ less than 50 employees will be covered by these provisions unless these requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.
Violations of these statutes include the payment of unpaid wages, reinstatement, back and front pay, and liquidated damages.
Employers should review their current employment policies and revise them as needed to comply.
About the Author
Barry L. Chaet, Esq. – Beck, Chaet, Bamberger & Polsky, S.C. Chaet serves as Legal Counsel to WHLA and is a member of GMHLA’s Board of Directors. BCBP is a business/employment/litigation/regulatory compliance law firm which provides a full range of legal services for the hospitality industry. He can be reached at (414) 690-1069 or Bchaet@bcblaw.net.
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