States File Lawsuit Over Expanded Rights For Abortion Accommodations

 April 26, 2024

A coalition of Republican attorneys general from seventeen states is suing over new federal regulations. The regulations in question expand accommodations under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to include requests related to abortions.

NPR reported that the lawsuit argues that the interpretation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the 2022 Pregnant Workers Fairness Act exceeds its legislative mandate.

The new rules, which were endorsed narrowly along party lines in a 3-2 vote, extend the protections initially intended for pregnant workers to include abortion-related accommodations. The attorneys claim this approach was not the original intent of the bipartisan-supported Act.

Legal Dispute Arises Over Interpretation of Worker Protections

According to a statement by Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, the Biden administration's expansive interpretation forces employers into a precarious legal position, potentially facing litigation for failing to accommodate procedures that may even be illegal under respective state laws.

Filing the lawsuit in Arkansas, the group of states contend that the EEOC's rules represent an overreach. Set to be enforced starting June 18, these guidelines are deemed by the suing states as a radical shift that was not authorized by law.

Assisting the workers' rights, A Better Balance, a prominent advocacy group, has spoken against the lawsuit. Dina Bakst, co-president of A Better Balance, argued that the legal challenge disrupts vital protections crucial for the health and economic stability of countless families.

New EEOC Regulations Spark Nationwide Legal Debate

The subject of these contested regulations has manifested in an ideological clash reflecting broader national debates over abortion and workers' rights. The EEOC stated that the regulations likely seek to provide unpaid leave for abortion-related medical appointments or recovery, framing it as within the reasonable scope of supporting worker health.

The criticism from the states includes arguments that the EEOC’s actions are an overstep beyond what was legislatively enacted. They express concern about the implications for businesses, particularly in states with stringent abortion laws.

The Justice Department has yet to respond to inquiries regarding the lawsuit. Queries to the EEOC were redirected to the Justice Department, highlighting the federal hierarchy’s strategy in handling this high-profile case.

States Band Together In Opposition to Federal Rules

The states participating in the lawsuit are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia. This legal action pinpoints a significant divide in interpretations of federal regulations across state lines.

The attorney generals from these states argue that the new federal approach infringes upon states' rights to legislate on such sensitive matters independently. They posit that the federal rules impose undue burdens on businesses in their jurisdiction, potentially leading to conflicts with state laws.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, envisioned to garner bipartisan support for pregnant workers’ rights, is now at the center of a contentious debate on its scope and applicability. As the lawsuit progresses, the core question revolves around the balance federal laws should maintain without encroaching upon individual states’ legal landscapes.


The unfolding legal battle sets a significant precedent for interpreting workers’ rights under federal statutes. As June 18 approaches, when these rules are set to take effect, all eyes will be on the courtroom developments, which could redefine employer responsibilities under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This legal challenge represents a critical juncture in the ongoing dialogue around workers' rights and reproductive health services in the context of U.S. employment law.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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