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For the first time since 1983, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued new enforcement guidelines on pregnancy discrimination. This “Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues” replaces prior guidance and the EEOC compliance manual published in 1983 and incorporates changes in related employment laws over the last 30 years.

The new guidance addresses the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) requirements as well as how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies for individuals who have pregnancy-related disabilities. Included in the guidance is a new interpretation requiring employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” as defined by ADA to pregnant employees.

The guidance also addresses FMLA requirements and other related issues as noted in the July press release from the EEOC including:

  • “The fact that the PDA covers not only current pregnancy, but discrimination based on past pregnancy and a woman’s potential to become pregnant;
  • Lactation as a covered pregnancy-related medical condition;
  • The circumstances under which employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers;
  • Issues related to leave for pregnancy and for medical conditions related to pregnancy;
  • The PDA’s prohibition against requiring pregnant workers who are able to do their jobs to take leave;
  • The requirement that parental leave (which is distinct from medical leave associated with childbearing or recovering from childbirth) be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms;
  • When employers may have to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related impairments under the ADA and the types of accommodations that may be necessary; and
  • Best practices for employers to avoid unlawful discrimination against pregnant workers.”

This guidance offers broader protections for pregnancy of which employers need to be aware. Pregnancy discrimination is an area to watch with this new guidance and a pending Supreme Court case related to this issue.

More information including the guidance, a fact sheet for small businesses and a Q&A can be found on the EEOC’s website.