Attorney General Henry Takes Action to Defend Protections for Pregnant Workers

Attorney General Michelle Henry joined a coalition of 23 Attorneys General defending a final rule issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) of 2022.

The PWFA is landmark federal legislation that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant and postpartum employees for a broad range of conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, including an employee’s termination of a pregnancy.

In an amicus brief filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Attorney General Henry and the coalition opposed a lawsuit seeking to stop the EEOC’s rule from taking effect.

“The expansion of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will allow for potentially hundreds of thousands of pregnant workers to have better access to the medical care they need to have a safe and healthy pregnancy,” Attorney General Henry said. “Giving birth or losing a pregnancy can be extremely taxing on a person’s body and mind, and this legislation allows for more workers to take the time they need to recover.”

Enacted in 2022, the PWFA is the first federal law of its kind. Prior to its passage, a patchwork of laws failed to adequately protect pregnant or postpartum workers, putting many people at risk of health complications or job loss, with a disproportionate effect on low-income workers and workers of color.

In April 2024, a group of states led by Tennessee sued the EEOC in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, arguing against the requirement of reasonable accommodations for abortion care and seeking to stop the implementation of the entire EEOC rule pending the outcome of the litigation.

In an amicus brief to the District Court, Attorney General Henry and the coalition argue for the importance of the PWFA, noting that job loss due to pregnancy discrimination can impoverish workers and families and affect their economic security at a critical time in their lives. The brief also argues that the EEOC was correct to include termination of pregnancy – including via miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion – in the law’s protections for “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” Decades of case law interpreting an identical term in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act support the EEOC’s interpretation.

Joining Attorney General Henry in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

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