Finalized Biden Admin Rule Adds Abortion to Workplace Benefits

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a final rule on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which provides “important clarity that will allow pregnant workers the ability to work and maintain a healthy pregnancy and help employers understand their duties under the law.”

PWFA was passed in 2022 as part of the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

The Act requires most employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” for an employee’s “known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.”

Some of the “reasonable accommodations” include “breaks to drink water, eat, or use the restroom; a stool to sit on while working; time off for health care appointments; temporary reassignment; temporary suspension of certain job duties; telework; or time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage, among others.”

Under the finalized rule, abortion is included in the definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

“Many of the comments urging the Commission to exclude abortion from the definition of ‘pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions’ expressed the view that abortion is the destruction of a human life, that it is objectionable for moral or religious reasons, and that it is not health care,” the rule states. “The Commission recognizes these are sincere, deeply held convictions and are often part of an individual’s religious beliefs.”

EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows said in a statement, “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a win for workers, families, and our economy. It gives pregnant workers clear access to reasonable accommodations that will allow them to keep doing their jobs safely and effectively, free from discrimination and retaliation.”

“At the EEOC, we have assisted women who have experienced serious health risks and unimaginable loss simply because they could not access a reasonable accommodation on the job. This final rule provides important information and guidance to help employers meet their responsibilities, and to jobseekers and employees about their rights. It encourages employers and employees to communicate early and often, allowing them to identify and resolve issues in a timely manner.”

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, condemned the inclusion of abortion in the rule, saying, “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act aims to assist pregnant mothers who remain in the workforce by choice or necessity as they bring their child to term and recover after childbirth. It defies common sense, and Congress’ intent, that EEOC continues to inject abortion into a law specifically aimed at promoting healthy childbirth.”

“The Biden administration must enforce the law as passed by Congress, not how they wish it were passed. The decision to disregard the legislative process to promote a political agenda is shocking and illegal,” he continued.

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also criticized the final rule.

“Adding this controversial provision into the PWFA is wrong. Period. Abortion is not a medical condition related to pregnancy; it is the opposite. Leave it to the Biden administration to think terminating a pregnancy and ending the life of an unborn child addresses the needs of pregnant workers,” she stated.

Foxx explained that the PWFA was “intended to ensure employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees,” emphasizing that the term “abortion” is not “once mentioned in the law.”

“Bottom line, this is a classic example of government bureaucrats royally mucking it up,” she added.

The rule will go into effect 60 days from April 19, 2024.