On February 27, Judge James Hendrix from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the federal government cannot enforce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) against the state of Texas as an employer.

The PWFA went into effect on June 27, 2023 and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations based on known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. In August 2023, the EEOC issued its proposed rule implementing the PWFA. Although the final rule was expected in December 2023, no final rule has been issued yet.

The PWFA was passed on December 23, 2022 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (the “Act”). In Tuesday’s decision, Judge Hendrix ruled that in passing the Act, Congress violated the U.S. Constitution’s Quorum Clause, which requires a majority of the members of Congress to be physically present for a vote. In order to have a quorum, 218 members of the House of Representatives must be physically present for a vote. However, on the day the Act was passed, only 205 members of the House cast their votes in person, while the rest of the members voted by proxy. Based upon this violation of the Quorum Clause, Judge Hendrix ruled that the federal government is permanently enjoined from enforcing the PWFA against the state of Texas.

The ruling is limited only to the application of the PWFA against the state of Texas. It does not apply to other aspects of the Act, to private employers in Texas or other states, or other state employers. Accordingly, despite this ruling, employers should continue to accommodate employees in accordance with the EEOC’s proposed regulations implementing the PWFA. However, it is likely that other states or entities will use this decision as precedent to seek injunctions on the PWFA in other jurisdictions.

The ruling will not go into effect until March 5th, to provide the federal government the opportunity to appeal the decision.