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EEOC Expands Pregnancy-Related Disability Protections

Posted by on August 20, 2014 - 1 Comment

Pregnancy Disability Discrimination LawsThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has updated their policy on pregnancy and pregnancy-related disability. Our stance? If it helps reduce workplace discrimination, we’re all for these new guidelines. The EEOC recently clarified many of the protections already established by federal law, and the new guidelines also expand on the protections that pregnant women can receive. These changes come over 30 years after the passing of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

Among the new changes, the EEOC states that employers cannot fire or force pregnant employees to take unpaid leave or discriminate against pregnant employees. This usually includes an employee who is unable to perform their job due to their pregnancy or put into bed rest by a doctor.

The new guidelines also extend ADA-related protections to pregnant employees, effectively treating it like a disability. That does not mean an employee can just drop everything as soon as they’ve discovered they’re pregnant. However, an employee cannot be fired for announcing their pregnancy, as this case involving Triple T Foods in Arkansas shows.

These new guidelines come as cases of pregnancy-related discrimination have risen since 1997. In 2011, 5,797 discrimination cases were filed alleging pregnancy discrimination or biased hiring. The guidelines state that pregnant employees must be allowed to work as long as they are physically able to.

Note that pregnancy is not redefined as a disability, but that pregnant employees are given the protection needed under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act should their pregnancy force them to take maternity leave. Pregnancy without complications is not a disability, but being forced to take bed rest during pregnancy might count. It should also be noted that these are guidelines, and are not formal regulations.

If you think you might have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy or pregnancy-related disability, you may want to file a complaint with the EEOC.

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This article was written by our Intern Paul.

1 Comment

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