On June 10, 2024, NWLC, the ACLU, the ACLU of Louisiana, and 18 additional organizations dedicated to workers’ rights and gender justice—including labor unions and legal advocacy organizations—filed an amicus brief defending regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) that make clear that employers have to reasonably accommodate employees for their pregnancy-related needs, including abortion care. 

In this case, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic University of America, the Diocese of Lake Charles, and the Diocese of Lafayette, sued the EEOC seeking to block enforcement of the PWFA and the Final PWFA Rule with respect to abortion-related accommodations. They also ask the court, among other things, to declare that the EEOC’s interpretation and enforcement of PWFA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are invalid under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment.   

Congress enacted the PWFA to fill gaps in federal law protecting pregnant workers and provide an explicit right to reasonable accommodations for workers affected by “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions,” a term taken directly from the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA). The EEOC’s regulations, which carry out Congress’s intent in passing the PWFA, recognize that abortion—which has long been covered under the PDA—is covered under the PWFA.  

Our brief shows how abortion is part of the full spectrum of pregnancy-related care and argues that if the court stopped implementation of the EEOC’s regulations, it would frustrate Congress’s intent in enacting the PWFA and hurt workers. We also argue that the EEOC’s rule does not violate the employers’ religious freedom, as it explicitly recognizes religious defenses that exist under current law. The PWFA does not limit the opportunities of religious employers to advance these defenses in individualized proceedings that consider the facts of each case.