The League of Women Voters of the United States joined public comments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on its proposed enforcement guidance on harassment in the workplace. Specifically, the comments support the EEOC's inclusion of protection against harassment on the basis of "pregnancy, childbirth or relation medical conditions," including an employee's reproductive health care decisions.
November 1, 2023
Charlotte A. Burrows, Chair
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
131 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507
Submitted via regulations.gov
RE: RIN 3046–ZA02, Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace
Dear Chair Burrows: The undersigned organizations write to express support for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace (“Proposed Guidance”).
As organizations committed to the protection and advancement of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice, we are committed to protecting against all forms of discrimination in the workforce, including sex-based harassment. We strongly support the Proposed Guidance’s recognition that this protection extends to harassment on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” including an employee’s reproductive health care decisions
Decades of case law and EEOC guidance make clear that Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including termination of pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, contraception, and fertility treatment. Importantly, federal courts have consistently found that Title VII prohibits discrimination against an employee for obtaining or contemplating an abortion. And the EEOC has made clear that Title VII “necessarily includes a prohibition on discrimination related to a woman’s use of contraceptives.”
We encourage the EEOC to provide additional examples of this form of sex-based harassment in the Final Guidance. In particular, and in light of the new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, we recommend that the Final Guidance include an example of a worker who is harassed because of their request for, or receipt of, a reasonable accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, including termination of pregnancy. In addition, as workers continue to be threatened or punished at work for their reproductive health decisions, we recommend that the final guidance include examples that illustrate how such harassment may manifest—for example, an unmarried woman who becomes pregnant and faces harassment based on the gendered expectation that women should not have sex outside of marriage, or a worker who faces harassment based on their decision to have or not to have an abortion, use contraception, or to use infertility treatment to start a family. We further urge the EEOC to explicitly recognize that transgender and nonbinary individuals can also experience sex-based harassment related to their reproductive health care decisions.
We thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on this Proposed Guidance.
See Attached Comments for Signatories