Public comments closed this week on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) regulation establishing a national mandate on employers to accommodate workers’ abortions under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).
During the 30-day comment period, readers submitted 27,230 comments through CatholicVote’s action center. Unconfirmed sources inside the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) state that another 20,800 comments objecting to the rule were submitted through their efforts.
The EEOC reported receiving 63,330 comments in total, meaning that Catholics and their allies provided over 75% of all feedback.
CatholicVote Director of Governmental Affairs Tom McClusky noted:
If the EEOC and the Biden administration have any meaningful interest in “the will of the people,” this figure is incontrovertible evidence that the vast majority of politically-engaged Americans reject the EEOC’s unconscionable regulation.
The public comments show that Americans reject efforts to force employers to accommodate abortions as if helping a mother end her pregnancy can be equated with supporting her through her pregnancy.
Hijacked by Ideology
The PWFA has the potential to fill a void in American employment law, requiring employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for “limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions.” To its detriment, however, the original act left the interpretation of those terms to the Biden administration’s EEOC, the federal agency responsible for regulating workplace discrimination laws.
As Sharon Fast Gustafson and Rachel N. Morrison observed at National Review:
The PWFA opened a door for EEOC to exercise its long-suppressed desire to issue broader binding regulations related to sex discrimination — regulations that are far broader than those the pro-pregnancy and pro-childbirth PWFA would require. Indeed, the EEOC is trying to use the PWFA as an occasion to regulate way beyond pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions to mandate accommodations for even the opposite — abortion.
No Women or Mothers
The EEOC regulation also erases the words “woman” and “mother” from the PWFA, a move consistent with the radical gender ideology agenda evident in other rules, amicus briefs, and proposals from the Biden administration.
In September, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a regulatory proposal that eliminates the words “mother,” “father,” “paternity,” and “his” and “her” from childcare-related laws.
The EEOC regulation is also notably weak on conscience protections.
On page 107, the EOCC cites section 702(a) of the Civil Rights Act, stating that the PWFA’s abortion provisions will not apply to religious employers “with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion.”
In other words, Catholic employers will not have to accommodate the abortions or in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures of Catholic workers, but the EEOC says nothing about the non-Catholic employees of those same companies.
Abortion… and Beyond
The EEOC isn’t limiting its agenda to the PWFA and so-called “abortion rights.” Its most recently proposed guideline for employers also equates “mis-gendering” employees with sexual harassment.
As reported by CatholicVote:
The EEOC is seeking to replace current legal definitions of sex-based harassment to include “reproductive decisions… about contraception and abortion” as well as “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
According to CatholicVote Director of Government Affairs Tom McClusky, however, the EEOC’s claim that the rule is legally non-threatening is misleading.
“Saying the rule would represent a ‘legal position’ but not be ‘legally binding’ is sending a clear message to employers with Judeo-Christian values – you are on notice,” McClusky said. Under the guidelines, employers with religious objections to using incorrect pronouns in the workplace will be vulnerable to legal action.
Furthermore, McClusky noted, if the rules governing prosecutions of sex-based harassment were extended to cover misuse of pronouns or “dead-naming” then religious accommodation protections for employers under the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII would be rendered void.
The EEOC has also targeted religious employers in an amicus brief in the 7th Circuit case Garrick v. Moody Bible Institute.
While the law tasks the agency with fighting sex discrimination, the agency’s brief rewords its interest to accuse the Moody Bible Institute of “gender discrimination” for requiring male employees to use men’s bathrooms.
The Punishment is the Process
While Moody and most employers who resist the Biden administration’s ideology will ultimately prevail in court under the First Amendment, the punishment will be the process. In Gustafson’s and Morrison’s analysis:
The lesson religious employers learn from prolonged litigation over religious issues is that even if the employers are fully protected by First Amendment, they can’t afford the entanglement and expense of litigating to a conclusion. The EEOC knows this full well.