EEOC issues guidance on pregnancy discrimination and accommodation

I plan to write more about this later in the week, but today the EEOC issued an Enforcement Guidance, Q&A, and Fact Sheet on pregnancy discrimination and accommodation. (This press release has links to all three.) Much of the Guidance reiterated the law as we had always understood it. However, there are some significant expansions of existing law, and it remains to be seen whether the EEOC has the authority to attempt such an expansion.

According to the Enforcement Guidance,

*Pregnant women are entitled to the same reasonable accommodations that are offered to employees with disabilities.

*An employer, in determining who is eligible for light duty, may not engage in so-called "source discrimination" -- in other words, the employer cannot distinguish based the way that the impairment was acquired. If an employer offers light duty to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses, the employer MUST offer light duty on the same terms to pregnant employees.

In addition, the Commission appears to be taking the position that certain violations of the Affordable Care Act - such as failure to provide lactation accommodation or to offer insurance coverage for contraceptives - also violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, who favored the changes, was kind enough to tweet me this evening a link to her statement in support:

 

 

And earlier today, Mel Haas, head of my firm's Macon (GA) Office and vice chairman of the Labor Relations Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, received from the Chamber this statement in opposition to the Guidance from Commissioner Constance Barker.

Bette Davis said it best:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMcUDtXFxbU

 

More to come later in the week. Don't go away!

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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