GrayRobinson Labor and Employment Section: The (Long Awaited) EEOC Final Regulation on the Pregnant Worker's Fairness Act

April 22, 2024

By: Julie Zolty

Overview of the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act:

The Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect June 27, 2023, and requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. On August 7, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its proposed rules for public comment and was met with approximately 100,000 comments. Despite the high volume of comments from employers, on April 15, 2024, the EEOC’s final rule (Final Rule) imposed substantially similar broad obligations upon employers. The Final Rule spans over 400 pages and covers topics such as who is covered under the Act, reasonable accommodations examples, and issues regarding supporting documentation. The Final Rule also defines various terms and notes distinctions amongst it and other employment laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Highlights from the Final Rule:

  • Includes applicants as covered employees subject to PWFA protections.
  • Requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for known limitations of a qualified employee or applicant related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, absent an undue hardship.
    • “Known limitation” is defined more broadly than the definition of “physical or mental limitation” under the ADA. Under the PWFA, a limitation can be “an impediment or problem that may be modest, minor and/or episodic.”
    • However, like the ADA, a “known limitation” requires “the employee or the employee’s representative has communicated the limitation to the employer.”
      • Note: the communication can be oral, and the employer cannot require it to be in writing.
    • Examples of “reasonable accommodations”  include: (1) frequent breaks, (2) schedule changes, (3) part-time work, (4) paid and unpaid leave, (5) telework, (6) light duty, (7) job restructuring, (8) temporarily suspending one or more essential job functions, or (9), acquiring or modifying equipment, uniforms, or devices.
  • Addresses limitations upon employers seeking documentation supporting an employee’s request for an accommodation. Under regulations, it is unreasonable to request documentation when the requested accommodation is available to others (regardless of pregnancy or childbirth related conditions); the employee requests a lactation accommodation; the employee requests one of the “virtually always reasonable” accommodations or the employer already has sufficient information.

What happens next?

The Final Rule was issued unpublished on April 15, 2024, and officially published on April 19, 2024. It will go into effect within 60 days.


Contact GrayRobinson Attorneys Julie Zolty and Marlene Quintana or any member of the Labor and Employment Section.