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Federal Judge Upholds EEOC Rules On Pregnancy Accommodations

U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision

A federal judge in Arkansas has ruled that a lawsuit filed by 17 states challenging federal rules entitling workers to time off and other accommodations for abortions lacks standing. The lawsuit, led by Arkansas and Tennessee, was filed against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in response to rules published for employers and workers to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a 2022 law requiring employers to make 'reasonable accommodations' for pregnant or postpartum employees.

The rules include provisions for pregnancy workplace accommodations such as time off for prenatal appointments, additional bathroom breaks, and permission to carry snacks. Notably, the rules also allow workers to request time off to obtain an abortion and recover from the procedure.

The lawsuit argued that the regulations exceeded the scope of the bipartisan 2022 law. However, U.S. District Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr. denied the states' request for a nationwide preliminary injunction on the federal rules, which are set to take effect soon.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin expressed disappointment with the ruling and stated that legal options are being considered. The other states involved in the lawsuit are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia.

Separately, the EEOC regulations are also being challenged in another federal lawsuit in Louisiana, which is awaiting a ruling. The ACLU and various advocacy groups have filed briefs supporting the implementation of the rules, emphasizing their importance in protecting pregnant and postpartum workers.

The EEOC defended its regulations by citing legal precedent that includes abortion in pregnancy anti-discrimination laws. Advocates for abortion rights have praised the protections under the EEOC rules, particularly in light of recent Supreme Court decisions affecting abortion rights.

Overall, the ruling in Tennessee v. EEOC is seen as a victory for pregnant and postpartum workers, as it allows the PWFA regulations to go into effect as scheduled, providing clarity on how the law operates in practice.

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