The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published several documents on July 14, 2014 related to pregnancy discrimination, including a new “Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues,” a question and answer document about the guidance and a “Fact Sheet for Small Businesses.”
This is the first pregnancy discrimination enforcement guidance in more than 30 years.
The guidance is not limited to addressing only the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The guidance also discusses the overlap and application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (as amended in 2008) to individuals who have pregnancy-related disabilities.
For instance, the guidance indicates that employers should provide pregnant workers with light-duty positions if they provide light duty for other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
But this issue is one that is currently in dispute on a federal level and one that will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in its next term in Young v. United Parcel Service, No. 12-226.
According to the EEOC, “much of the analysis in the enforcement guidance is an update of longstanding EEOC policy.” Among other issues, the guidance discusses:
- The fact that the PDA covers not only current pregnancy, but discrimination based on past pregnancy and a woman’s potential to become pregnant;
- Lactation as a covered pregnancy-related medical condition;
- The circumstances under which employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers;
- Issues related to leave for pregnancy and for medical conditions related to pregnancy;
- The PDA’s prohibition against requiring pregnant workers who are able to do their jobs to take leave;
- The requirement that parental leave (which is distinct from medical leave associated with childbearing or recovering from childbirth) be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms;
- When employers may have to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related impairments under the ADA and the types of accommodations that may be necessary; and
- Best practices for employers to avoid unlawful discrimination against pregnant workers.
California employers: Remember that California’s pregnancy disability regulations may provide greater protections to pregnant employees than federal law.
Source: CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content
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