EEOC Proposes Employers Provide Accommodations for PPD

By Sarah Johanek, MPH

August 11th, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a proposed rule for employers implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which addresses maternal mental health. The PWFA “prohibits employment practices that discriminate against making reasonable accommodations for qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health submitted the following letter in response to the proposed rule for employers implementing the PWFA.

Our work shaping and reporting on national mental health policy is made possible through a 2020-2024 capacity grant from the Perigee Fund.

Dear Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,

At the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health (“the Policy Center”), our mission is to close gaps in the maternal mental health delivery system by working with providers, payors, policymakers, and our partners to improve access to standardized, evidence-based maternal mental health care. 

We are grateful for the opportunity to review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proposed rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act:

Proposed Rule:

Section 1636.3(a)(2) “adopts the definition of “limitation” based on the PWFA and thus defines it to mean a physical or mental condition related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” Under the interpretation of “Related to, Affected by, or Arising Out of,” the proposed rule states: 

“An employee who requests an accommodation to attend therapy appointments for postpartum depression has a medical condition related to pregnancy (postpartum depression) and is obtaining health care for the related medical condition.” 


We applaud the EEOC’s inclusion of postpartum depression as a medical condition that employers must allow postpartum people to take breaks during the workday, use intermittent leave to attend therapy appointments, and access requested accommodations, such as paid leave, absent an undue hardship. We encourage the EEOC to revise the rule to replace postpartum depression with “Maternal Mental Health (MMH) Disorders,” which occur during pregnancy and through one year postpartum. Section 1636.3: Definitions – specific to the PWFA defines related medical conditions as “medical conditions which relate to, are affected by, or arise out of pregnancy or childbirth, as applied to the specific employee or applicant in question” and states that this includes “antenatal (during pregnancy) anxiety, depression, or psychosis; postpartum depression, anxiety, or psychosis.”

We appreciate your consideration and are grateful for this opportunity to share feedback. 

Please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Johanek with questions or clarifications at [email protected]


Joy Burkhard, MBA
Executive Director
[email protected]

Sarah Johanek, MPH
Policy Project Manager
[email protected]