D.C. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Date: March 25, 2015

The D.C. Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014 (“the Act”) became effective March 3, 2015.  Under the Act, D.C. employers are required to provide accommodations, when requested, to employees when they are needed due to pregnancy, childbirth, related medical conditions or breastfeeding.   Examples of such accommodations include, but are not limited to, more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from child birth, temporary transfers to less strenuous positions, providing modified work schedules and providing private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk.  In addition, the Act prohibits discrimination and/or retaliation against such employees.  

In addition, the Act requires Notice to be provided to all employees as follows:

  1. Employers must post a notice of rights in English and Spanish.
  2. Employers must provide written notice of employee rights under the Act to:
    • New employees at the commencement of employment;
    • Existing employees within 120 days after the effective date of this Act (March 3, 2015); and
    • Any employee who notifies the employer of her pregnancy, or other condition covered by the Act, within 10 days of notification.

For any non-English or non-Spanish speaking employee, the notice must be provided in their language.  Unfortunately, D.C. has not yet provided a sample notice so any notice must be crafted to comply with the Act until a sample notice is provided by the D.C. Department of Employment Services.

This new Act includes stiff penalties for non-compliance.  Thus, it is imperative that all D.C. employers immediately comply with the new notice requirements and the accommodations requirements in order to avoid penalties under the Act.  Those penalties can include lost wages, reinstatement and attorney’s fees. Violations that are willful are subject to penalties of $1,000 for the first offense, $1,500 for the second offense and $2,000 for each subsequent offense.   In addition, an employer who fails to provide and post the required notice may be assessed a civil penalty up to $50.00 per day for each day that the employer fails to post the notice (not to exceed $250.00). 

For more information or for assistance with compliance please contact Jennifer Jackman, Esq. (202-659-6794) and/or Tiffany Releford, Esq. (202-659-6764).