The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidelines on the treatment of pregnant employees under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The guidance clarifies that the PDA prohibits discrimination based not only on an employee’s current pregnancy, but also on past pregnancies and an employee’s potential or intention to become pregnant in the future. It also states that a covered employer (an employer with 15 or more employees) must treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
A significant update to the guidelines states that lactation and breastfeeding are pregnancy-related medical conditions protected under the PDA. Therefore, employers must ensure that employees have the same freedom to address lactation-related needs as other employees have to address other similarly limiting medical conditions.
The new guidelines also focus on light duty requirements for employers. Employers must provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave or unpaid leave to pregnant workers if other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work are offered these benefits as well.
The guidelines are in effect as of July 14, 2014, and can be read in full at www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm.