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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2015 | Employment Law

The attorneys at Snee, Mahoney, Lutche & Helmlinger P.A. discuss the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s updated guidance on pregnancy discrimination within the workplace.

In March of 2015, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Young v. UPS, establishing that a pregnant employee can claim a prima facie case of disparate treatment if her employer failed to accommodate her.  A prima facie case must meet the following four credentials:

  • The employee proves that she belongs to a protected class
  • The employee sought accommodation for her condition
  • The employer did not accommodate the employee
  • The employer provided accommodations for other employees under similar conditions or similar abilities to work

If an employee can prove that she was subject to disparate treatment under this framework, the burden falls to the employer for providing a reason for not accommodating the employee’s condition.

Upon release of the decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released updated guidance pertaining to pregnancy discrimination—including a fact sheet for businesses and a list of questions that will help to guide employers to making the proper decisions regarding pregnant employees.

New Guidance

The updated Pregnancy Discrimination Guidance establishes that women may be able to prove illegal discrimination on the basis of their pregnancy if an employer provided accommodations to some disabled employees, but not to pregnant employees. Similarly, individual business policies regarding accommodations may violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, even if the policy is not intended to limit accommodations to pregnant employees.  Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

To view the Pregnancy Discrimination Act fact sheet, as published by the EEOC, click here.

State Mandates

Although the Young decision specifically pertains to the federal mandate of workplace accommodations, several states–including Maryland—have laws in place that establish pregnancy as a disability. These state laws require that employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees so long as those accommodations do not create an undue hardship.

For more information of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance, or general questions related to employment law, contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Snee, Mahoney, Lutche & Helmlinger P.A.