New pregnancy discrimination guidelines

Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 to clarify that discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is a prohibited form of sex discrimination based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The PDA requires employers with 15 or more employees treat women affected by pregnancy or related medical conditions the same way they treat nonpregnant applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

This July, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new enforcement guidance. The first comprehensive update since 1983, EEOC updated prior guidance on this subject in light of legal developments during the past 30 years, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, reasonable break time for nursing mothers under the Affordable Care Act, and other requirements affecting pregnant employees.

The guidance requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees who have work restrictions because of pregnancy even if the employee does not qualify as disabled or is not regarded as disabled under the American with Disabilities Act. It also requires equal access to benefits including light duty, leave, health care and various other benefits. 

Linda Edwards, labor attorney with Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis law firm, will discuss the new EEOC guidance during her legal update session at the Municipal Human Resources Association's Annual Meeting in November.