Apr 18, 2024

EEOC Issues Final Rule Implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Pregnant office worker looking over paper work.

On April 15, 2024, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a preview notice of the final rule implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”). The PWFA became effective on June 27, 2023, and the EEOC published its proposed regulations on the PWFA in the Federal Register in August 2023. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2024, and is expected to take effect on June 18, 2024.

The PWFA applies to all private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees and expands existing protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  The PWFA’s primary goal is to ensure covered employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.  However, employers are not required to provide an accommodation that would cause an undue hardship to the employer’s business operations.

The EEOC’s final rule addressed the approximately 100,000 public comments received about the proposed regulations, as many employers and employees sought clarity regarding the individuals and types of limitations and conditions covered and the process for addressing employee accommodation requests.  The final rule and its accompanying interpretative guidance provide examples of reasonable accommodations, what constitutes a medical limitation, and when an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on an employer. The final rule confirms that employers should follow the interactive process framework set forth under the ADA when evaluating PWFA accommodation requests.

Three primary changes were made from the proposed regulations to the final rule. References to the terms “applicant” and “former employee” were removed from the regulation because the statutory definition of “employee” encompasses both applicants and former employees. The term “worker” was also replaced with the word “employee” throughout the regulation. Finally, the EEOC removed sections of the proposed regulations that pertained to employees covered by the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 because the Commission does not have authority to regulate those employees.

If you have any questions regarding the final rule, the PWFA in general, or navigating the interactive accommodation process with employees, please contact your Labor and Employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap