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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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May 23, 2024

Chicago Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 23 attorneys general, is defending a rule issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) of 2022. The PWFA is a landmark federal law that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant and postpartum employees. The EEOC rule would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for a broad range of conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, including an employee’s decision to terminate a pregnancy.

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

“Pregnant and postpartum workers often face challenges that require additional support and accommodations from their employers,” Raoul said. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will ensure all workers who are pregnant and postpartum can access the medical and reproductive health care they need without fear of losing their jobs and their livelihoods,” Raoul said.  

Enacted in 2022, the PWFA is the first federal law that requires employers to provide pregnant and postpartum workers with reasonable accommodations – such as additional breaks or excused time off for doctors’ visits – to protect their health. Prior to its passage, a patchwork of laws failed to adequately protect pregnant or postpartum workers, putting many at risk of health complications or job loss, with a disproportionate effect on low-income workers and workers of color. In August 2023, the EEOC proposed a rule implementing the PWFA that, among many other things, required employers to provide reasonable accommodations for workers whose pregnancies are terminated by abortion, most commonly in the form of time off to attend a medical appointment or recovery.

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 submitted to the District Court, Raoul and the coalition explain 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 PWFA provides important workplace protections for pregnant and postpartum workers, particularly low-wage workers and workers of color who are more likely to suffer negative health outcomes during pregnancy as a result of their jobs. 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 Raoul in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.