EEOC publishes final rule on PWFA

    Authored by Bukaty Companies on April 23, 2024

    On April 19, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) final rule on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was published. The regulation is effective June 18, 2024.

    The final rule provides needed clarity for public and private employers with 15 or more employees who must comply with the PWFA. Covered employers must provide reasonable accommodations, absent of undue hardship, for qualified employees and applicants who have “known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” The EEOC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in late 2023 and offered a 60-day public comment period; more than 100,000 comments were received.

    One of the most widely debated points, mentioned in approximately 94,000 comments, was the inclusion of abortion in the definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” The final regulation establishes that "having or choosing not to have an abortion” is included in the definition, remaining consistent with the longstanding interpretation of the same phrase found within Title VII. Other covered medical conditions include lactation, miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and HELLP syndrome. The EEOC iterates that the PWFA “cannot be used to require an employer-sponsored health plan to pay for or cover any particular item, procedure, or treatment, including an abortion.”

    The EEOC also provides examples of what reasonable accommodations could be, including:

    • telework,
    • leave for health care appointments,
    • changing food or drink policies to allow for a water bottle or food,
    • leave to recover from childbirth or other medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, and more.

    Employers subject to the PWFA should post the current Know You Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal notice in a conspicuous location for employees to view, which was updated to include the PWFA. Failure to do so could result in a penalty of $680.

    To learn more about the PWFA the EEOC offers additional resources, including an overview and webinar recording.

    Blog Category: Compliance