As noted on one of our blogs on August 14, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a proposed rule regarding the implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). (Public comments on the proposed rule are being accepted until October 10, 2023, if you would like to provide feedback through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov.) The Act requires reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants who are “qualified” and have a known limitation “related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” for employers covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Congressional Accountability Act, the Government Employee Rights Act, and (4) section 717 of Title VII, which covers Federal employees. The article we placed on our site last week also discusses pregnancy as being one of the enforcement priorities in the new Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC just put out a new announcement regarding a case where a New Mexico employer was found to have discriminated against an employee with a high-risk pregnancy and disabilities and retaliated against her for requesting a reasonable accommodation. The article indicates the employer knew the pregnancy was high-risk, punished the employee for their absences, failed to provide an accommodation, and “used a rigid planned time-off attendance policy” to fire her. The article also stated the employer prohibited employees from requesting leave from work as a reasonable accommodation.
The EEOC is pursuing back pay, compensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC specifically stated, “A company’s leave policy cannot override federal legal protections for pregnant workers and workers with disabilities.”
In addition, the Healthy Workplaces Act was enacted in New Mexico last year. If an employee has requested time off under the HWA, the employer cannot take action against the employee for having taken job-protected leave.
If you are wondering how this regulation and others may affect you or haven’t had your policies updated in a while, contact Southwestern HR Consulting (SWHRC) today and we can provide you with guidance from our team of experts.
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP
Phone: 505-270-7494 | Email: email@example.com