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Publications | April 17, 2024
2 minute read

EEOC Releases Final Rule Implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On April 14, 2024, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) finally released its long-awaited final rule implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA or Act).

The PWFA became effective June 27, 2023, and covers private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees. Covered entities are required to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified employee’s or applicant’s known limitation related to, affected by or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, absent undue hardship.

The final regulations largely track the proposed rule released by the EEOC in 2023, including expansive definitions of “qualified,” “limitation” and “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.”

Under the rule, “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions” includes infertility, fertility treatment, birth control, miscarriage, abortion, postpartum depression and numerous other conditions, as well as prenatal care.

According to the regulations, potential accommodations could include suspending essential functions, transferring the employee to another position, allowing participation in a light duty program or offering the employee a leave of absence.

The regulations also indicate there are certain accommodations that will be considered reasonable in “virtually all” cases. These include:

  • Allowing an employee to carry or keep water near and drink, as needed.
  • Allowing an employee to take additional restroom breaks, as needed.
  • Allowing an employee whose work requires standing to sit and whose work requires sitting to stand, as needed.
  • Allowing an employee to take breaks to eat and drink, as needed.

Notably, unlike the Family and Medical Leave Act, there are no minimum service requirements for employees to be eligible for the PWFA’s protections. Additionally, unlike under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees are still considered “qualified” under the PWFA if they cannot perform the essential functions of their position for a temporary period, which could be up to 40 weeks for employees who are pregnant.

The regulations are quite detailed and extensive and will considerably impact employers with respect to handling accommodation requests for employees experiencing covered limitations.

To learn more about the PWFA requirements and other topics, please join us at our 2024 HR Seminar on May 1, 2024.