EEOC Releases Broad Proposed Pregnancy Accommodation Regulations for Public Comment

Volume: 22 | Issue: 38
August 14, 2023

The EEOC recently issued proposed regulations implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). Effective June 27, 2023, the PWFA requires reasonable workplace accommodations for qualified employees and applicants who have a known limitation related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. In addition to seeking input on the draft regulations, the EEOC wants to know whether other topics should be addressed and is asking for information on the average cost of pregnancy-related accommodations.

Initially announced on August 7, 2023, the proposed regulations were officially published in the Federal Register for comment on August 11, 2023. The proposed regulations address some of the reasonable accommodations employers may have to provide employees with pregnancy-related limitations, including: job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; more-frequent breaks; unpaid leave, including to attend health care-related appointments and to recover from childbirth; assignment to light duty; and telework, as well as explain how the EEOC will interpret key terms in the PWFA, such as “related medical conditions,” “temporary,” “essential functions,” and “communicated to the employer.” In addition, the proposed regulations address the circumstances in which employers may and may not request medical information to support the need for accommodation.

The EEOC’s proposed regulations have already generated debate, concern, and anger over the agency’s use of a very broad definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” that includes current, past, and potential pregnancy, lactation, use of birth control, menstruation, miscarriages, and abortion. United States Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the lead Republican co-sponsor of the PWFA, issued a statement last week stating that the EEOC’s proposed regulations “completely disregard legislative intent and attempt to rewrite the law by regulation.”

Comments regarding the EEOC’s proposed PWFA regulations must be received on or before October 10, 2023. 

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