Published October 10, 2023
On Tuesday, October 10, 2023, EPPC scholars submitted a public comment on proposed regulations by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA fills a longstanding gap in employment law and requires employers to provide their employees reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the workplace. However, EEOC’s proposal goes beyond the text of the PWFA to impose an abortion accommodation mandate on America’s employers.
EPPC scholars Rachel N. Morrison, Eric Kniffin, and Natalie Dodson wrote in their public comment,
We are deeply committed to supporting pregnant women, mothers, and their unborn children, including in the workplace. We celebrate the long overdue employment accommodation protections in law that women now have as a result of the passage of the PWFA. We are concerned, however, that EEOC’s expansive proposed regulations implementing the PWFA have turned the pro-woman, pro-mother, and pro-baby law on its head. The EEOC’s proposed regulations erase the very class of women the law is meant to protect: pregnant workers. The proposed regulations are far broader than those the pro-pregnancy and pro-childbirth PWFA would require. The EEOC’s expansive proposal raises serious religious freedom and free speech concerns for religious organizations and pro-life employers. Indeed, the Commission is trying to use the PWFA to regulate way beyond pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions to mandate accommodations for even the opposite—abortion. This proposed abortion mandate is contrary to the statutory text and congressional intent of the PWFA.
The scholars urged the EEOC to “drop its abortion mandate, fully recognize employers’ statutory and constitutional protections for religious freedom and free speech, and keep the PWFA pro-woman, pro-pregnancy, and pro-childbirth.”
Read EPPC’s Press Release about EPPC’s and other groups’ comments here.