Abortion Nod in EEOC Pregnancy Rule Draws Conflicting Decisions

“The swath of challenges to the rulemaking by the EEOC only serves to put more workers in a position where they are unsure of what their rights are and to increase confusion” for workers and employers alike, said Laura Narefsky, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act itself is a relatively straightforward law that was passed with a reasonable amount of bipartisan support.”


Federal law already accounts for various religious objections to anti-bias mandates, such as through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the ministerial exception under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Courts historically have required a case-by-case analysis to determine when those exemptions apply, Narefsky said.

“Nothing in the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act did anything to upend, alter, eliminate, or narrow existing exemptions for religious employers from complying with certain workplace discrimination laws,” she said. “What these employers are saying is the fact they have to go to court and articulate why they should be exempt is too much of a burden for them.”