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The EEOC Announces Final Rule to Implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

on Friday, 19 April 2024 in Labor & Employment Law Update: Sarah M. Huyck, Editor

On April 15, 2024, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) which will be published on April 19, 2024, and become effective on June 18, 2024. Recall that the PWFA was signed into law in 2023 and requires a covered entity to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified employee for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions—unless the accommodations would impose an undue hardship on the employer. You can learn more about the PWFA here.

The final rule provides examples of reasonable accommodations under the PWFA such as additional breaks to drink water, eat, or use the restroom; a stool to sit on while working; time off for health care appointments; temporary reassignment; temporary suspension of certain job duties; telework; or time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage.

The EEOC also confirmed that abortion is included in its definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations related to abortion. Note that the PWFA does not require an employer-sponsored health plan to pay for any procedure, including an abortion, and does not require a reasonable accommodation that would cause an employer to pay any travel-related expenses for an employee to obtain an abortion. The final rule notes that the most likely accommodation sought for an abortion will be time off to attend a medical appointment or for recovery. The PWFA, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, does not require that leave as an accommodation be paid leave, unless the employer’s policies provide otherwise.

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