The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a groundbreaking ruling Enforcement Guidance today clarifying the nation’s pregnancy discrimination rules. The EEOC decided and noted, among other things:
1. Employers must give women who are pregnant the same flexibility and accommodations as they provide for disabled and ill employees. So, for example, if an employer provides an employee who has a back injury or some other movement limiting disability “light duty” to accommodate their limitations, he or she should provide similar adjustments for women who are pregnant.
2. Employers cannot judge work-limitations due to pregnancy in a different light that it would consider limitations caused by an injury or sudden illness.
3. Violations of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide suitable places for women to pump their breast milk is also a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
4. Employers are guilty of stereotyping when they decide to not hire, promote or give a pregnant woman a task based on their biased perception she would be able to perform her duties well after she delivers her baby.
5. Employers cannot fire a woman returning from maternity leave just because a pregnant woman was on maternity leave; neither can they fire a woman while she is on maternity leave.
6. Employers cannot exclude birth control from medical policies unless they fall under rules exceptions. This one is a dig at the recent U.S. Supreme Court cases exempting certain employers from complying with the AHA birth control laws. But it went further, to clarify, that an employer CAN include abortion in its plan if it wants.
Not all, including some of the Commissioners on the panel agreed with the majority’s decision, arguing that treating pregnancy like a disability is an insult to the disability community. Read the reply to those in the minority of this decision from Commissioner Chai Feldblum HERE!