Skip to Main Content

New Legislation and Guidance Regarding Pregnancy Discrimination and Accommodation

Pregnancy discrimination claims before the EEOC have risen in recent years, and the EEOC has stated that enforcement of pregnancy-related laws is a priority. Federal law prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from instituting discriminatory policies and practices, and in some circumstances, may require employers to provide pregnant employees with accommodations.

For example, the Supreme Court is currently considering whether an employer who offers accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations must offer accommodations to pregnant employees with similar abilities. And, legislation was introduced in Congress that would require an employer to “make a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, unless this creates an undue hardship on the employer.” While the bill is still under consideration, some states have passed laws requiring private employers to provide at least some accommodations to pregnant workers.

The EEOC also recently issued guidance regarding employers' obligations under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. An example of this is an organization can be liable for a host of pre-pregnancy conditions, like potential pregnancy, reproductive risk or intention to become pregnant. The EEOC also announced that discrimination against an individual because she is breastfeeding or because she exercised her right to an abortion is actionable under federal law. As a result, employers should take caution before denying a request or taking an adverse employment action against an employee for any pregnancy-related activities.

To help avoid liability under state and federal pregnancy laws, employers should ensure they have legally-compliant policies in place and train management on the company's responsibilities under the policies. If you have any questions about your company's obligations to pregnant employees or need help drafting or revising your pregnancy-related policies, please contact your Elarbee Thompson attorney or reply to this email.

Blog Categories