What the EEOC’s Pregnant Workers Act Regulations Mean for Connecticut Employers

HR & Safety

The following article was first published on Shipman & Goodwin attorney Dan Schwartz’ Connecticut Employment Law Blog. It is reposted here with permission.

The EEOC issued its final regulations April 15 for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. They will take effect 60 days from April 18, 2024.

Since nearly every law firm is producing their own summary of what are, in my view, fairly straightforward implementation regulations, this post will take a different tact—namely how these regulations are the same (or differ) from Connecticut’s own pregnancy accommodations statute and guidance.

As Connecticut employers no doubt should recall, Connecticut passed expansive changes to the pregnancy discrimination law in 2017 requiring employers to accommodate pregnant workers.

Through that law and guidance issued by the CHRO, there were a number of concepts that were formalized back then:

  • Workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions.
  • Workers are entitled to reasonable leaves of absence due to disability resulting from pregnancy.
  • Workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations and reasonable leaves of absences for any pregnancy-related condition or symptom.
  • Workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations for lactation needs.
  • Workers are entitled to confidentiality and an “employee may choose to keep any medical diagnosis
    confidential. Likewise, an employer should not directly contact the employee’s doctor without first obtaining the employee’s permission.”

Related Conditions

In many respects, the EEOC regulations have similar protections—just now at a federal level giving employees nationwide coverage.

Indeed, much has been made of the EEOC’s definition of covered “related conditions” as including abortion.

But the CHRO guidance also discussed coverage for related conditions including the “loss or termination of pregnancy.” So, both laws will seem to be interpreted in the same way.

The EEOC rule also makes it clear that an employer might need to temporarily eliminate an essential function of the job for up to 40 weeks.

The EEOC rule also makes it clear that an employer might need to temporarily eliminate an essential function of the job for up to 40 weeks (or the typical length of a full-term pregnancy).

This too, is fairly consistent with Connecticut’s rule that accommodations may include job restructuring or light duty work.

Notably, the rule for pregnancy accommodation differs from an ADA analysis where the inability to perform an essential function may be disqualifying, so employers should understand the differences with disability law.

Interactive Process

Both the EEOC and Connecticut guidance also talk about the interactive process, which largely tracks the ADA process requirements.

The EEOC does encourage employers to respond promptly to employee requests and even consider “interim” accommodation requests where a limitation appears rapidly.

Both the EEOC and Connecticut guidance have a similar non-exhaustive list of accommodations.

Connecticut doesn’t specifically mention this but this difference appears modest in nature.

Both the EEOC and Connecticut guidance have a similar non-exhaustive list of accommodations that can be considered reasonable.

The EEOC goes one step further by stating that four types of accommodations will be deemed to be reasonable calling these “predictable assessments.”


Thus, in virtually all cases, employers will need to grant them absent a showing a undue hardship. These include:

  • Allowing an employee to carry or keep water around the work area;
  • Allowing additional restroom breaks;
  • Allowing an employee to sit or stand;
  • Allowing an employee to take breaks to eat or drink.

The EEOC’s regulations do seem to go a bit beyond Connecticut’s in limiting the situations in which documentation is required and explicitly prohibiting it for certain types of instances (such as when the employee is requesting one of the “predictable assessments” above).

Thus, employers should exercise caution when seeking additional documentation in support of the pregnancy.

Familiar Requirements

Overall, many of the requirements outlined by the EEOC will be familiar to employers in Connecticut.

While some adjustments may be needed as to how employers should handle pregnancies and accommodations, most of these will be modest.

Employers should seek legal counsel to review their policies.

Employers with employees in other states should also review the impact these new regulations will have on any interaction with those state laws as well.

About the author: Dan Schwartz is a partner at Shipman & Goodwin and has decades of experience solving complex, employment law problems for companies.


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