Quick Hits

  • A federal district court in Texas has blocked enforcement of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act against the State of Texas on the grounds that it was passed by Congress in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s quorum requirements.
  • The PWFA requires an employer with fifteen or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation to workers for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would cause the employer an undue hardship.

The PWFA, which went into effect on June 27, 2023, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to workers for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The requirement applies to employers with fifteen or more employees, “unless such [a] covered entity can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.”

In late 2022, Congress passed the PWFA as part of a funding package under consideration, with only 205 members of the U.S. House of Representatives present and voting in favor of it. The State of Texas sued the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other federal agencies in February 2023, arguing that because only 205 congressional members were physically present to vote on the PWFA, the House of Representatives failed to meet a quorum.

Texas also argued that a rule implemented by Congress in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, which permitted non-present congressional members to vote by proxy and thus be counted toward quorum requirements, was unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas agreed, though only as to this narrow issue, blocking enforcement of the PWFA against Texas.

The federal government has one week to appeal the ruling.

Ogletree Deakins’ Leaves of Absence/Reasonable Accommodation Practice Group will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the PWFA and will provide updates on the firm’s Employment Law and Leaves of Absence blogs as additional information becomes available.

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Leaves of Absence/Reasonable Accommodation

Managing leaves and reasonably accommodating employees can be complex, frustrating, and expose employers to legal peril. Employers must navigate a bewildering array of state and federal statutes, with seemingly contradictory mandates.

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