On April 15, 2024, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule implementing the federal Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA, which went into effect in June 2023,1 requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ known limitations relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical protections. The PFWA builds on existing pregnancy-related protections and employer obligations under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and many state and local laws.

The 400-page final rule provides clarity on how the EEOC will interpret and enforce the PFWA.  Of note, the final rule provides interpretative guidance on the following key topics:

  • Limitations and medical conditions for which applicants or employees may seek reasonable accommodations, including miscarriage or stillbirth, migraines, lactation, and pregnancy-related conditions that are episodic, such as morning sickness.
  • Clarification that employers are not required to seek documentation supporting an accommodation request and should only do so when it is reasonable under the circumstances.
  • Examples of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, including but not limited to: additional breaks, a stool to sit on while working, time off for medical appointments, temporary reassignment, temporary suspension of certain job duties, telework, or time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage.
  • Expectation that employers and employees will engage in early and frequent communication to raise and timely resolve reasonable accommodation requests.
  • When a reasonable accommodation may impose an undue hardship on an employer.

The final rule is set to be published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2024 and will take effect 60 days thereafter. 

If you have any questions about the implications of the PWFA or its final rule, Reed Smith’s experienced employment attorneys are available to help.

  1. In February 2024, a federal court in Texas blocked enforcement of the PWFA against the state of Texas and its divisions and agencies. This ruling does not impact private employers in Texas, who must still comply with the PWFA. ↩︎