EEOC Says Accommodations Required for Pregnant Employees
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued its first new guidance on pregnancy discrimination since 1983. On July 14, 2014, the EEOC added provisions explaining when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) might require reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related “disabilities” or work restrictions, such as, for example, morning sickness or high blood pressure. No Federal Court of Appeals has adopted this position and all who have considered it have rejected that notion. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide to what extent a pregnant employee must be reasonably accommodated.
The best course of action continues to be to treat pregnant employees like all other employees. Under the EEOC new guidance, pregnant employees with “disabilities” have the same accommodation rights as any other individual with disabilities would have. Therefore, although the EEOC guidance is not the law and courts are not required to follow it, employers should still proceed with caution, as the EEOC will investigate these issues and some courts may ultimately follow this guidance. If you haven’t already done so, ensure that you have accurate, up-to-date job descriptions and/or job analyses that contain physical requirements of the job, create policies and procedures for dealing with pregnancy-related accommodation requests, and train your managers to be compassionate and seek assistance whenever these issues arise.
If you have any questions or need assistance with planning and compliance, please do not hesitate to call the ScottHulse Labor & Employment team.