Monday, December 10, 2012

EEOC Plans to Heavily Attack Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) was enacted to address the heavy burden plaintiffs faced in court in proving disability discrimination.  With expansion of those rights in the workplace the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that it will use the ADAAA to target unaccommodated pregnancies that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (which doesn't consider "ordinary" pregnancy a disability) and Title VII (under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)) did not previously protect.  Specifically, EEOC Legal Counsel Peggy Mastroianni asserted that with the expansion of covered disabilities under the ADAAA, certain common pregnancy-related conditions such as gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica and anemia may now be deemed covered disabilities.

"Ordinary" pregnancy is not covered under the ADA and under the PDA, courts have held that employers generally haven’t been required to provide accommodations for pregnant women unless they provide them for “similarly situated employees” with temporary disabilities.  Coupled with the EEOC's new strategic plan, earlier I wrote about the legislation currently in the works in Congress, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act which seeks to protect pregnancies and require employers to accommodate pregnant workers unless they can prove an undue hardship.

Pregnant workers, especially those with complicated pregnancies who are having trouble obtaining accommodations in the workplace are highly encouraged to seek legal counsel and advice as it could lead to assisting in the expansion of pregnant workers' rights under the ADAAA.

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