While pregnancy itself is NOT defined as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pregnancy-related impairment that substantially limits a major life activity will constitute a disability under the first prong of the definition:
Major life activities that might be substantially limited by pregnancy-related impairments could include walking, standing, and lifting, as well as major bodily functions such as the musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. Alternatively, a pregnancy-related impairment may constitute a “record of” a substantially limiting impairment, or may be covered under the “regarded as” prong if it is the basis for a prohibited action and is not both “transitory and minor.”
Therefore, UF employees experiencing pregnancy-related impairments should follow the steps of the Interactive Process through the UF ADA Office.
The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
As of June 27, 2023, The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act or “PWFA” requires the University of Florida to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a qualified worker’s known limitations related to:
- related medical conditions
unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship” which means significant difficulty or expense for the employer.
Extending Reasonable Accommodations
Some examples of possible reasonable accommodations under the PWFA for pregnant workers are:
- the ability to sit or drink water on the job
- receiving closer parking
- being provided flexible hours
- receiving appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel
- receiving additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest
- taking leave for appointments or time off to recover from childbirth
- being excused from strenuous activities, such as lifting heavy objects, and activities that involve exposure to chemicals that are not safe during pregnancy
If a UF employee is unable to do their regular job, even with a PWFA accommodation, they may be eligible for light duty, a temporary alternate work assignment or reassignment, or leave if necessary.
PWFA Accommodation Process
Because medical documentation is not required for these accommodations, UF employees do NOT need to file a formal UF ADA Accommodation request through the UF ADA Office.
Additionally, supervisors may NOT refuse PWFA accommodation requests from employees. If a supervisor believes there is undue hardship, they MUST contact the UF ADA Office for a formal review of the case.
Recently, additional guarantees protecting pregnant and nursing employees were passed. Please review guidance for implementation in the workplace.