On April 19, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which has been in effect since June 27, 2023. As the EEOC explains, the PWFA requires most employers with 15 or more employees “to provide a ‘reasonable accommodation’ to a qualified employee’s or applicant’s known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an ‘undue hardship.’” The final rule goes into effect on June 18.

The final regulation provides guidance on what constitutes a limitation under the PWFA, reasonable accommodations, employee-employer communication practices and when accommodations may impose an undue hardship on an employer. It also provides information on employer defenses or exemptions, such as those based on religion.

In December 2022, the PWFA was signed into law as part of H.R.2617, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. Specifically, the PWFA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to workers with qualifying limitations and prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities because of the need for accommodations, retaliating against employees for requesting accommodations and forcing employees to take leave when an accommodation is possible.

ABC’s general counsel, Littler Mendelson, states the following in its analysis of the final rule, “Employers should become familiar with the final regulations and the examples of reasonable accommodation in the EEOC’s interpretive guidance to better understand their obligations under the PWFA and how the EEOC will be interpreting and enforcing it in specific cases. Employers also may want to work closely with counsel to update any pregnancy accommodation policies and related forms to ensure that they comply with the final regulations.”

EEOC Resources:

To learn more, visit eeoc.gov and see ABC general counsel Littler Mendelson’s publication on the rule.