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New EEOC Pregnancy Guidelines

Earlier this month, the EEOC published two pregnancy-related resources to help clarify pregnant employee's rights:

  1. Legal Rights for Pregnant Workers under Federal Law
  2. Helping Patients Deal with Pregnancy-Related Conditions and Restrictions at Work

As a general matter, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers (with 15+ employees) from discriminating against an employee based on the fact that:

  • you are pregnant;
  • you were pregnant;
  • you could become pregnant, or intend to become pregnant;
  • you have a medical condition that is related to pregnancy; or
  • you had an abortion, or are considering having an abortion.

In the above publications, the EEOC outlines its expectations as to an employer's treatment of pregnant employees:

  • While the Americans with Disabilities Act does not cover pregnancy because it is not considered a disability, pregnancy-related conditions such as anemia, depression, gestational diabetes, and more, may require an accommodation;
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act covers pregnancy, and even if an employee is not eligible for FMLA, they may still be entitled to unpaid leave as an accommodation;
  • Pregnant employees may receive accommodations where other employees have received accommodations for similar limitations, but were not the result of pregnancy.

Employers should not assume that accommodations are avoidable in the case of pregnancy simply because it is not considered a disability. Example accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions may include: (1) altered break and work schedules (e.g., breaks to rest or use the restroom), (2) permission to sit or stand, ergonomic office furniture, (3) shift changes, (4) elimination of marginal job functions, and (5) permission to work from home.

Two instances that may prevent an employer from having to provide an accommodation include:

  1. The employee does not otherwise have an ADA-protected medical condition, and
  2. The employer has never offered accommodations to similarly limited non-pregnant employees.

Employees whose accommodations have not been met should consider discussing their situation with an experienced employment attorney. Likewise, employers who want to be certain of their rights should also contact an employment attorney. The Thatcher Law Firm provides intuitive and precise guidance representing both employees and employers in all employment matters.

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