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Initial Challenge to EEOC’s Pregnancy Rule Upheld

A group of state attorneys general filed a lawsuit in April against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding its newly implemented pregnancy rule. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Earlier, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti had requested a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

However, on June 14, U.S. District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. declined to grant the preliminary injunction, deeming it unnecessary. Judge Marshall Jr. ruled that the states did not demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable harm and dismissed the case without prejudice. He stated, “This case revolves around a minor dispute over wording, which is unlikely to lead to real-world disputes, given the Act’s broad scope and undisputed portions of the implementing regulation.”

The states also argued that the abortion accommodation mandate in the new act infringed on their sovereignty, especially in states with laws restricting abortion. Nevertheless, Judge Marshall Jr. rejected this claim, stating that pausing enforcement of the regulation would not resolve the core issue, and the Department of Justice, not being a party, could still enforce the regulation.

Federal Employment Lawyers in DC Note: Despite this ruling, the rule remains unenforceable against public employers in Texas. The decision does not conclude the litigation; it merely prevents these states from halting enforcement while the legal proceedings continue. Additionally, in Louisiana, U.S. District Judge David Joseph issued a preliminary injunction on June 18. This injunction partially restricts the rule’s application concerning religious organizations, Louisiana and Mississippi states, their agencies, and certain covered entities with employees primarily based in those states, particularly regarding “purely elective abortions.”

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