Pregnancy Accommodation Outline of the Law
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
42 U.S.C. §2000e(k), EEOC, Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm
- First clause of the PDA: “The terms 'because of sex' or 'on the basis of sex' include [under Title VII], but are not limited to, because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions . . .” Meaning: Discrimination based on sex is prohibited; “sex” includes pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Therefore employers cannot discriminate against pregnant employees because they are pregnant.
- If employers provide accommodations to non-pregnant employees, such as flexible schedules, reduced hours, light duty, and transfers, they cannot refuse to provide similar accommodations to pregnant employees because the employees are pregnant. EEOC, Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm.
- An employer cannot try to force a pregnant employee to quit by refusing to accommodate her because she is pregnant.
- An employer cannot force a pregnant employee to take leave when she is able to work simply because she is pregnant or based on stereotypes or assumptions about pregnant women. Id.
- Second clause of the PDA: “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes . . . as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work . . .” Meaning: Pregnant women are to be treated the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
- An employer that provides an accommodation, such as light duty, to non-pregnant employees must provide the accommodation to pregnant employees unless it has a strong, legitimate reason (other than cost or convenience) for treating the pregnant employees differently. Young v. UPS, 135 S.Ct. 1338 (2015).
- An employer cannot force a pregnant employee to take leave when she is able to work if it allows non-pregnant employees to work when they are able to work. (Both the first and second clauses prohibit this.) EEOC, Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, available at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm.
- An employer cannot overlook a non-pregnant employee’s noncompliance with attendance or work rules but discipline a pregnant employee for violating the rules, such as allowing a nonpregnant employee to arrive to work late with no penalty but disciplining a pregnant employee for being late.
- If an employer that does not have a maternity leave policy provides leave to non-pregnant employees due to medical conditions, it may need to provide leave to pregnant women due to medical conditions, including pregnancy-related conditions, childbirth, and recovery.