The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was signed into law in December 2022 and has become effective as of June 27, 2023. The Equal Opportunity Commission, having enforcement authority, accepted complaints on that date.
On August 11, 2023, the EEOC published proposed regulations for the Act in the Federal Register. Comments are due within 60 days from that date. Employers are able to provide their comments on the proposed regulations electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.
Because the Act is in effect, the EEOC is enforcing its provisions, and It would be wise to use the proposed rules as guidance.
There are critical points in the proposed regulations that employers should understand. I will discuss them in a series of posts.
First, the proposed rules expand coverage for both pre-and post-partum conditions. Reasonable accommodation for “known limitations” is required. Nothing in the regulations indicates that a severity level is an element of the “limitations.” As for physical or mental conditions, they can be a “modest, minor, and/or episodic impediment or problem.” It also applies to needs or problems related to maintaining the employee’s health or the health of the pregnancy. The rules broadly define ” pregnancy, ” including past and potential or intended pregnancies. “Related medical conditions” are further explained within the rules by examples such as pregnancy terminations, infertility, and fertility treatments. Also, the proposed regulations give examples, including menstrual cycles, birth control, lactation, and conditions related to lactation. The proposed rules provide examples of mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, or post-partum depression.
In the next post, I will discuss the proposed rules’ expanded protection for “Qualified” employees who can’t perform an essential job function. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I am particularly interested in how this will impact your business.