PRESS RELEASE: A Better Balance Applauds the EEOC for Announcing Robust Final Rule for the Implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

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Today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced final regulations interpreting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which guarantees the right to reasonable accommodations to pregnant and postpartum workers nationwide and remedies gaps in the law that disproportionately forced women of color in low-wage, physically demanding jobs to choose between their health, and their income. 

A Better Balance, the organization that launched and led the decade-long movement for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and testified twice before Congress supporting the law, previously applauded the EEOC’s proposed regulations and submitted a comment pushing for a strong final rule, drawing from the lived experiences of hundreds of workers across 44 states. A Better Balance also worked with over 8,000 individuals who submitted comments. 

The final rule and Interpretive Guidance were posted for public inspection today and will be published in the Federal Register on April 19th, 2024.

The following is a statement from A Better Balance Co-President Dina Bakst: 

“We applaud the EEOC for issuing robust final regulations that appropriately recognize the broad scope of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and ensure millions of workers, especially women in low-wage and physically-demanding jobs, can access the vital accommodations they need during pregnancy and after childbirth, to protect their health and keep their jobs. We are especially pleased to see leave for prenatal appointments and recovery from childbirth appropriately recognized as reasonable accommodations, benefiting millions of workers who currently lack any right to job-protected time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Today with these final rules, we have achieved a huge step forward for women’s economic security, maternal health, and the economy as a whole. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a life-changing protection for pregnant and postpartum workers nationwide, ensuring they aren’t forced off the job or denied the accommodations they need for their health. A Better Balance spent a decade making the legal case for the PWFA, grounded in the lived experience of thousands of workers nationwide, and are so pleased to see the EEOC has heeded our call for strong regulations to best protect them. Robust enforcement of this groundbreaking civil rights law will ensure workers with limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth, or other related conditions can fully rely on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act’s protections, and have vital clarity as to how the law operates in practice, delivering long overdue dignity, fairness, and equality under the law. 

We look forward to continuing to empower workers around the country to use their rights under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and to work with the EEOC to ensure strong enforcement.” 

The EEOC’s final rule and Interpretive Guidance include several key points of the law, including that leave for prenatal appointments, recovery from childbirth, postpartum depression, and more are reasonable accommodations under the PWFA. It also recognizes that “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” have long been understood to include lactation, miscarriage, and abortion. The final rule includes strong prohibitions on retaliation and interference. 

For more information and resources for workers to understand and assert their rights under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, see here. Workers with questions or needing legal assistance can contact A Better Balance’s free and confidential legal helpline here.

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