Overview: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII which protects pregnant individuals from applicant and employee discrimination. Further, some state and local laws similarly prohibit discrimination against employees and applicants who are pregnant. Pregnant individuals also may be protected under federal and state family and medical leave acts. In order to be protected based on pregnancy, the employer must know that the individual is pregnant. To avoid pregnancy discrimination, employers should develop a policy against discrimination and provide employees and supervisors with training so that pregnant employees receive fair and equal treatment. Further, an employer needs to understand that it is required to treat pregnant employees the same as other similarly situated non-pregnant employees.
Trends: Employers should be aware that legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees unless it would cause undue hardship for the employer. Some states such as New Jersey and Maryland as well as cities like New York City and Philadelphia have already made this a requirement. Further, the EEOC has recently filed a number of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits and is aggressively pursuing pregnancy discrimination in the workplace through its Strategic Enforcement Plan. It has labeled pregnancy discrimination as an emerging issue and it is working to combat pregnancy discrimination and ensure pregnancy accommodation. Employers should be alert and keep up with the rapid changes in this area of the law as it has become a hot topic in employment.
Author: Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Pennsylvania employers with one or more employees working in Philadelphia that seek to show their compliance with the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
The US Supreme Court's new term begins today and includes a number of cases with significant employment law implications, including a pregnancy accommodation dispute, a religious discrimination case involving Abercrombie & Fitch and more.
Delaware law will soon require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants affected by pregnancy or childbirth.
Arkansas employers seeking to show their compliance with Arkansas' law requiring employers to provide unpaid break time and reasonable locations for employees to express breast milk should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Maryland employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year are required to include this model policy statement in their handbook.
Delaware employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant and nursing employees and job applicants under a new law enacted on September 9, 2014.
Starting January 1, 2015, Illinois employers will be required to provide pregnant employees reasonable accommodations such as longer bathroom breaks, specialized seating and even temporary transfer to a less-hazardous position.
As women make up over half of today's workforce, a significant number of employees and applicants are pregnant women as well as mothers returning to work after childbirth. As such, an employer faces multiple issues in managing pregnant employees.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released Enforcement Guidance clarifying many aspects of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and providing additional guidance on how to manage pregnant employees and avoid pregnancy discrimination claims.
HR guidance on how to confront the legal challenges in managing an employee who is pregnant and preventing discrimination based on pregnancy.