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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published the finalized rules clarifying the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA). These rules encompass various aspects of accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. This 400+ page rule was published on April 19, 2024, and is expected to take effect on June 18, 2024, pending potential legal challenges.

Let’s review some key highlights of the PWFA, including some of the recent clarifications.

Employers Covered by the PWFA

Employers with 15+ employees.

Related Conditions

The finalized rule broadly defines covered conditions, including but not limited to abortion-related accommodations, as well as fertility and infertility treatment, stillbirth, menstruation, and incremental conditions, such as morning sickness.

Qualified Employees

The definition of “qualified” under PWFA is expansive, potentially covering many workers, unlike the ADA. Qualification includes temporary conditions in which employees can perform their duties “in the near future.”


Employees with known pregnancy-related limitations are covered, regardless of severity, which differs from the ADA. The PWFA does not include a threshold for the severity of the condition to request accommodation.

Accommodation Options

Employers must consider various accommodations, such as job restructuring, schedule changes, frequent breaks, reserved parking, or telework. Accommodation denials are permissible if they cause undue hardship, considering factors like duration and impact on business operations.

Interactive Dialogue

Under the PFWA, employers can only require a qualified employee to accept reasonable accommodation if they go through an interactive process.


Employers can sometimes request documentation but must follow reasonable practices. Employers cannot ask for more documentation than is reasonably necessary to make a proper determination.

Interpretative Guidance

The final rule includes and clarifies how the EEOC will interpret and enforce PFWA. This is a great resource for employers.

Retaliation Prohibited

The PWFA prohibits retaliation against employees for seeking or taking reasonable accommodation related to their pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions.

Other State and Local Laws

The Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act does not replace federal, state, or local laws that are more protective of workers, including job applicants, affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. More than 30 states and cities have laws requiring employers to accommodate pregnant workers. Other applicable laws include FMLA, the PUMP ActTitle VIIPDA, and ADA. While these all touch on pregnancy, there are nuances that govern unique situations and expand rights in certain areas further than the other laws.

Yes, it gets complicated!

So, What is next?

How Can HR and Leaders Prepare for the June PWFA changes?

    • Stay informed about challenges to the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act, yet be prepared for the effective date of June.
    • Review your handbook policies for reasonable accommodation to ensure compliance with PWFA.
    • Ensure you have an efficient and effective mechanism or process for workers, including job applicants, to request accommodation.
    • Consider HR training to bring your team up to speed on the impacts and requirements of PWFA.
    • Seek legal counsel and HR advice before denying accommodation requests related to pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions.
    • Evaluate the protective rights afforded in the PWFA against any state or city laws applicable to your organization to determine governing rights for your workers.

Sources and References: Fisher Phillips; Employment Law Watch – Reed Smith Attorneys; EEOC

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.