NEWS

EEOC Issues Final Regulation on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On April 15, 2024, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA requires most employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations,” including changes at work, for a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.

The PWFA does not replace federal, state, or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. More than 30 states and cities have laws that require employers to provide accommodations for pregnant workers.

The EEOC began accepting charges of discrimination on June 27, 2023, the day on which the PWFA became effective. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2024. It was approved by majority vote of the Commission on April 3, 2024, and becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Highlights from the final regulation include:

  • Abortion accommodations are included in “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions” that are covered by the law. The EEOC makes it clear that they do not require any employers or health care providers to provide or pay for abortions or any travel-related expenses. The abortion accommodations covered under PWFA would typically include allowing time off for the procedure and recovery. The commission also stated that it will also consider religious objections to providing abortion accommodations on a case-by-case basis.
  • Examples of other reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, including such things as additional breaks to drink water, eat, or use the restroom; a stool to sit on while working; time off for health care appointments; temporary reassignment; temporary suspension of certain job duties; telework; or time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage, among others.
  • Guidance regarding limitations and medical conditions for which employees or applicants may seek reasonable accommodation, including miscarriage or still birth; migraines; lactation; and pregnancy-related conditions that are episodic, such as morning sickness.
  • Guidance encouraging early and frequent communication between employers and workers to raise and resolve requests for reasonable accommodation in a timely manner.
  • Clarification that an employer is not required to seek supporting documentation when an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation and should only do so when it is reasonable under the circumstances.
  • Explanation of when an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on an employer and its business.
  • Information on how employers may assert defenses or exemptions, including those based on religion, as early as possible in charge processing.

 

If you have questions about the application of the PWFA, please reach out to a Kullman Law attorney for assistance.

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