HR Management & Compliance

Accommodating Pregnant Employees

By BLR Senior Legal Editor Susan Schoenfeld, JD

The challenge of how and when to accommodate pregnant employees has moved to the forefront as a result of recent changes to the law and recent guidance coming from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In July 2015, the EEOC issued revised guidance addressing an employer’s obligation to accommodate pregnant employees in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. United Parcel Service Doc. No. 12–1226 (2015). EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues makes it clear that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), prohibits discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy (i.e., because a woman might get pregnant), and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

According to EEOC’s recent guidance, the PDA requires employers to treat a pregnant employee who is temporarily unable to perform, or is limited in performing, the functions of her job because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition in the same manner as it treats other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

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