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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: EEOC Issues Final Rule

Posted by Giovanna A. D'Orazio | Apr 25, 2024

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a federal law that finally requires reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and childbirth related limitations.  On April 3, 2024, a final rule implementing the law (which became effective June 27, 2023) was voted on and will be effective 60 days after (June 2, 2024).  The rule is essentially additional guidance - even though the rule isn't effective yet, the statute is and has been since last June.  In fact, we have a case pending at the EEOC under this statute and were told it was the first one in our area!

Like Title VII (which prohibits discrimination based on various protected statuses including sex, and also incorporates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act), the PWFA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. 

From the EEOC, some highlights from the new rule include:

·       "Numerous examples of reasonable accommodations such 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. This guidance is based on Congress's PWFA statutory language, the EEOC's longstanding definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions” from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and court decisions interpreting the term “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions from Title VII.  

·       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."

A fact sheet on the PWFA is available here

If you believe your employer has denied you an accommodation, fired you in retaliation for requesting one, or discriminated against you because of your sex, pregnancy or childbirth (including breastfeeding), give us a call. We are happy to see if we can help.  You can also fill out an intake form on our website. 

About the Author

Giovanna A. D'Orazio

Giovanna has experience litigating, among other things, commercial, general civil, employment, land use and personal injury matters in New York State and federal courts. Giovanna focuses her practice on plaintiff's employment and personal injury matters, with a particular interest in women's rights and employment discrimination and harassment.

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