Earlier this month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues which discusses legal requirements under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other federal laws. According to the new Enforcement Guidance, pregnancy discrimination complaints have been on the rise for years, outpacing the steady rise of women in the workplace.
This new Enforcement Guidance provides additional legal support for pregnant employees who need light duty because of physical restrictions related to their pregnancies. The Enforcement Guidance makes clear that, under the PDA, if an employer permits employees with physical restrictions similar to a pregnant woman to have light duty, it must give light duty to pregnant employees as well. For instance, if an employer gives light duty assignments to employees with lifting restrictions due to on-the-job injuries, it will need to provide light duty assignments to pregnant employees who have those same lifting restrictions.
According to the Enforcement Guidance, the ADA entitles pregnant employees who suffer from some pregnancy-related medical impairments to reasonable accommodations. For instance, an employer may have to permit a modification to an employee’s work schedule in order to accommodate her if she has a pregnancy-related medical impairment. The Enforcement Guidance offers the following example of such a situation: