UPDATE: EEOC Releases Final Rules for Accommodating Pregnancy or Related Conditions

This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued its final rules and accompanying interpretive guidance for implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”). The PWFA, a new federal law that became effective in June 2023, requires most employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified employee’s or applicant’s known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. While the PWFA builds upon existing protections against pregnancy discrimination under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act, it fills in identified gaps in the legal protections for employees.

Just in Time for Veterans Day, Federal Agencies Provide Military Service Members and Veterans with Guidance on Unlawful Employment Discrimination

On November 10, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division jointly released a comprehensive resource document detailing federal laws and other authorities that specifically protect service members and veterans from workplace discrimination.  In its press release, the EEOC described the jointly authored “Protections Against Employment Discrimination for Service Members and Veterans” as the first-of-its-kind single publication intended to “help veterans and service members determine which laws and federal agencies are responsible for enforcing their workplace rights and where to seek assistance if they believe those rights have  been violated.”

Emotional Distress Damages: How Far Does Cummings Reach?

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court held in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C. that emotional distress damages are not recoverable in private actions brought to enforce Spending Clause statutes.  After acknowledging that “Congress has broad power under the Spending Clause of the Constitution to set terms on which it disburses federal funds”—including by conditioning an offer of federal funds on a recipient’s promise not to discriminate—the Court explained that Spending Clause legislation “is much in the nature of a contract: in return for federal funds, the [recipients] agree to comply with federally imposed conditions.”  The Court then held that plaintiffs cannot recover emotional distress damages for violations of Spending Clause statutes because emotional distress damages are not generally compensable in contract law, and because funding recipients lacked “clear notice” that accepting federal funds would subject them to emotional distress damages in private actions brought to enforce Spending Clause statutes.