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From the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which goes into effect on June 27, 2023, to the EEOC’s updated guidance on applicants and employees with hearing disabilities, released on January 24, 2023, the agency is inaugurating new initiatives that employers need to know. 

  • The ADA requirement to accommodate employees with disabilities: 
  • What are the fundamental ADA principles and practices that every manager, supervisor, and HR professional needs to know?
  • Are chronic illness, obesity, COVID Long-Haul effects,  and the age of an employee considered to be disabilities? 
  • How to deal with an employee's request for an accommodation 
  • Utilizing the ADA interactive process in determining if an accommodation is warranted 
  • Work from home as a reasonable accommodation
  • Extended leave, beyond the FMLA’s requirements, as a reasonable accommodation
  • The requirements of the new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
  • Significant Aspects of the January 2023 “Hearing Disabilities” Guidelines
  • What targeted enforcement by the EEOC mean to your organization

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is designed to ensure that employers with 15 or more employees provide reasonable accommodations that are often low-cost or at no cost unless it would pose an undue hardship to the employer. The bill includes protections not already codified in the ADA or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The PWFA allows pregnant workers to continue working by ensuring they can have accommodations such as additional bathroom breaks, light duty, or a stool to sit on if a worker stands all day. The law also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations due to childbirth or related medical conditions.
The Guidance, titled “Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” contains a series of questions and answers, with situational examples, to guide employers in addressing hearing impairments in the workplace.  It signals a special interest being taken by the agency in auditory disabilities.
Additionally, under the EEOC’s 2023 Strategic Enforcement Plan, the agency will take a targeted approach to enforcement. A targeted approach empowers Commission staff throughout the agency to direct attention and resources to the specific priorities identified in this SEP, with the goal of positively influencing employer practices and promoting legal compliance. Targeted enforcement will enhance the Commission's ability to prevent and eliminate unlawful employment practices, develop and clarify the law, and advance its mission and the public interest. A targeted approach includes proactive efforts to address SEP priority issues, including using Commissioner Charges and directed investigations.

  • Senior Leadership
  • Human Resource Managers
  • Managers and Supervisors
  • Team Leaders
  • Compliance Professionals
  • Operations Professionals
  • Employees

Dr. Jim Castagnera holds an M.A. in Journalism from Kent State University and a J.D. and Ph.D. (American Studies) from Case Western Reserve University. He worked 10 years as a labor, employment, and intellectual-property attorney with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr and 23 years as associate provost & legal counsel for academic affairs at Rider University, where in 2018 he received the university’s highest annual award for distinguished service. He also did stints as a full-time law professor at UT-Austin and Widener University Law School.

Having retired from Rider in 2019, he is engaged in a portfolio of activities: President of Dr. Jim’s One-Stop HR Shop, a full-service HR law and compliance company; Partner with Portum Group International LLC, a data-privacy & compliance-consulting firm; Of Counsel to the Wilftek law firm; an Adjunct Professor of Law in the Kline School of Law at Drexel University, and an arbitrator for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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