EEOC finalizes pregnancy accommodation rule

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EEOC Final Pregnancy Accommodation Rule

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made a striking announcement on Monday, revealing the conclusive version of a rule to enact the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This Act, passed in 2022, significantly bolsters legal protections related to pregnancy and childbirth for employees across the nation.

EEOC Final Pregnancy Accommodation Rule : Final Regulations Released

The final regulations of the PWFA, spanning over 400 pages, come after an initial proposal by the agency in August. The PWFA, operational since June, mandates employers to provide reasonable workplace accommodations for pregnant employees or those with pregnancy-related conditions, unless such accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the business.

Deadline Met Amidst Public Scrutiny

President Joe Biden signed the PWFA into law on Dec. 29, 2022, necessitating the EEOC to formulate implementing regulations within a year. The agency submitted its final rule to the Office of Management and Budget just before the deadline, despite facing intense public scrutiny during the two-month comment period on its 275-page draft regulations.

 Anticipated Publication and Impact

Scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on April 19, the rule will become effective two months thereafter. EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows hailed the PWFA as a significant triumph for workers and families, emphasizing the provision of clear access to accommodations that ensure job safety and effectiveness, free from discrimination or retaliation.

Controversial Interpretations

However, the final regulations have stirred controversy, particularly regarding the inclusion of abortion within the ambit of the PWFA. The EEOC maintained its broad interpretation, citing consistency with the statutory language and historical interpretations by the commission and courts.

EEOC Final Pregnancy Accommodation Rule : Political Discord

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, vehemently opposed the inclusion of abortion in the final rule, labeling it as illegal and contradictory to the intent of the PWFA. He urged the Biden administration to adhere to the law as passed by Congress.