An Overview of the PWFA and PUMP Acts | Cooper and Friedman

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An Overview of the PUMP Act and PWFA Going into Effect on June 27th, 2023

Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on June 26, 2023
Cooper and Friedman is a law firm in Louisville, KY ready to stake a stand for working mothers whose employers violate the new PWFA or PUMP Act.


A necessary and overdue change is coming into effect on June 27th, 2023 for those in the workforce who are or can become pregnant and for nursing mothers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) ensure that mothers are provided with what they need and reasonable accommodations for qualified employees are provided when their limitations are due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Like the ADA, it also states that employers may not force the worker to take paid or unpaid leave if reasonable accommodations can be made and prohibits acts of retaliation by the employer against workers or applicants that request reasonable accommodation.

Examples of reasonable accommodations that could potentially be required under the PWFA:

  • Providing additional restroom breaks
  • Reducing lifting requirements
  • Providing leave for an employee who does not qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Providing different office equipment within reason (i.e. a stool for a worker who usually stands)
  • The ability to sit or drink water
  • Designated, closer parking
  • Flexible hours
  • New, appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel
  • Be excused from excessively strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy

What if my State Already has Protective Laws for Working Mothers?

Both the PWFA and PUMP Act will not preempt any existing state or local laws that provide equal or greater protections to pregnant workers and nursing mothers, which means that whichever law gives more protection will be the one that stands.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 already prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, but under the previous federal law, pregnancy was not considered a condition entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA until it rose to be considered a disability or until accommodations were made for other similarly-situated, non-pregnant workers. Despite this, most state or local law provided additional protections for pregnant workers, including Kentucky.

Even without the new federal protections, Kentucky had previous provisions under:

  1. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 344.030, which states that pregnant employees must be treated with similar ability or inability to work for all employment-related purposes, including benefits.
  2. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 344.040, which states that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with limitations related to pregnancy or childbirth – including the need to express breast milk – unless it caused undue hardship for the employer or the employer employed less than 15 employees, and that they must be provided with a private space to express the milk that is not a bathroom.

The combination of these two statutes is practically word-for-word what the new federal law protects, meaning that pregnant and nursing workers in Kentucky were enjoying the accommodations before many other states! Let’s take a deeper look into these new acts.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, or PWFA, states that qualified employees and job applicants with temporary physical or mental limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions must be provided with reasonable accommodations unless it will cause the employer “undue hardship,” which is decided upon by a case-by-case basis, normally. If an employee brings a lawsuit against their employer for violation of the PWFA, the act requires that an employee must exhaust all “administrative remedies” first.

A qualified employee:

  • Works for an employer with 15 or more employees
  • Can still perform the essential functions of the employment position with the accommodations
  • If they cannot perform the essential functions, it’s only for a temporary period in which the essential function can be reasonably accommodated

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act)

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act, or PUMP Act, is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that requires employers to provide a reasonable break for pregnant workers or nursing mothers to express breast milk when they have the need for 1 year after childbirth. It also obligates employers to provide a place other than a bathroom that is private and free from intrusion where the worker can do this.

A few stipulations to this act:

  • If the requirements are deemed to cause undue hardship to the employer, the act will not apply to companies with under 50 employees.
  • Certain workers in the transportation industry may still be excluded from the PUMP Act, even if it broadens the included population.
  • The breaks are not required to be paid if the employee is completely relieved of all duties and is uninterrupted for the entire break.
    • If the employee who is expressing milk is either interrupted or required to keep doing certain duties during the break, then the break must be paid.

Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Louisville, KY?

If your workplace or employer has previously denied reasonable accommodation or has expressed an unwillingness to provide reasonable accommodation when the acts go into effect on June 27th, 2023, Cooper and Friedman is on your side. As seasoned discrimination lawyers, we can get you the settlement and accommodations that you deserve.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of workplace discrimination in the State of Kentucky and are in need of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, give the lawyers at the Cooper & Friedman law firm a call. The attorneys at Cooper and Friedman PLLC have over 50 years of combined experience defending the rights of workplace discrimination victims. Contact us with questions you might have or schedule a free case consultation with an attorney by calling 502-459-7555 today.

Posted Under: Discrimination Law, Kentucky Laws, New Laws, Sex and Gender Discrimination, Workers Compensation

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