(Last Updated On: August 14, 2023)
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) on Monday, August 7th, 2023. This NPRM holds implications for both employers and employees. At Rodman Employment Law, our seasoned attorneys offer a balanced insight into the Act’s nuances and its potential impact on both parties.
The PWFA at a Glance
The PWFA represents a pivotal shift in addressing the needs of pregnant and postpartum workers. It mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations for any limitations linked to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. However, there’s an exception if the accommodation might result in undue hardship for the employer. This act enhances the existing protections against pregnancy discrimination laid out in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Additionally, it complements the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act related to reasonable accommodations.
EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows emphasized the PWFA’s role in fortifying both the economic and health safeguards for pregnant and postpartum workers. From an employer’s perspective, the Act also highlights the benefits of retaining indispensable talent by providing necessary on-the-job support.
Decoding the Role of the NPRM
Approved on August 1, 2023, the NPRM serves to elucidate the EEOC’s stance on the PWFA. It helps in interpreting significant terms of the PWFA, such as “temporary,” “essential functions,” and “communicated to the employer.” Additionally, the NPRM offers a range of examples detailing what reasonable accommodations might look like. It also welcomes input on these examples, potentially broadening their scope. Furthermore, the EEOC has expressed an interest in understanding the proportion of pregnant workers who might need such accommodations and the financial implications these adjustments might carry for businesses.
Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels aptly summarized the regulation’s intent: to provide tangible, real-world examples to help both workers recognize their rights and employers to streamline compliance with this new mandate.
Initiated as bipartisan legislation, President Biden signed the PWFA into law on December 29, 2022. The EEOC officially began its enforcement from June 27, 2023. This progression means the EEOC has committed to finalizing regulations in alignment with the PWFA by the close of 2023.
For those seeking more information, the EEOC has rolled out a series titled “What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.” It’s a comprehensive set of resources suitable for both employers and employees, including webinars, a revised “Know Your Rights” poster most workplaces are required to post, and more.
Need Help Interpreting the PWFA?
Navigating the PWFA requires understanding from both employers and employees. While the Act fosters a conducive environment for pregnant and postpartum workers, it also emphasizes the significance of collaboration and open dialogue between employees and their organizations.
Our advice is to stay informed and participate in the ongoing discussions. The NPRM will be published for the public on August 11th in the Federal Register, at which time, the EEOC invites members of the public to provide feedback within 60 days on www.regulations.gov. It’s a prime opportunity for both employers and employees to voice concerns and suggestions. In these evolving times, a balanced understanding and proactive approach are crucial. And as always, Rodman Employment Law is here to guide both employers and employees through these changes.