Today’s General Counsel

Constangy attorneys Lara de Leon and Jessica Maynard authored an article published by Today’s General Counsel detailing the landscape of workplace accommodations after 2023 saw several changes as it relates to how employers can manage issues related to pregnancy, religion and disability.

“Workplace laws constantly evolve, and claims challenging employers’ workplace accommodations (or lack thereof) are becoming increasingly common,” the attorneys wrote. "Employers should carefully review and update their policies, procedures, forms, and training to ensure compliance.”

Related to pregnancy, employers continue to navigate two relatively new laws: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (The PUMP Act). PWFA requires employers covered by Title VII to provide reasonable accommodations for known physical and mental limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, unless it creates an undue hardship. The PUMP Act expands lactation accommodation provisions in the 2010 Nursing Mothers Act and requires employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide reasonable breaks and a private space for pumping. 

On religion, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2023 that changed the legal standard required by employers to show an undue hardship created by a requested accommodation based on an employee’s sincerely held religious belief. The Court ruled that employers must show that a religious accommodation would cause an undue hardship that substantially increased costs related to the conduct of its operation. “Employers can anticipate an influx of religious accommodation requests,” de Leon and Maynard said. “Additionally, the holding brings into question the analysis employers used in granting and denying accommodation requests during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Finally, the EEOC filed lawsuits related to disability accommodations in the workplace in 2023 that dealt with issues like termination due to lifting restrictions or requesting to periodically sit. Additionally, court rulings regarding telework as a disability accommodation have increased since 2021, with a greater percentage of rulings being made in favor of the employees. “This shift indicates that employers need to carefully consider work-from-home accommodations.”

For the full article, please click here.

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