Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) added pregnancy to its list of conditions for which people could not be turned down for a job, pregnant women have enjoyed protections against discrimination in the workplace. However, some women still feel as though their jobs or their chances of being hired in a new position will be at risk if they become pregnant. The EEOC has recently updated its guidelines regarding protections for pregnant women.
The updated guidelines have come about as a reaction to a rise in allegations of discrimination against pregnant women. According to the EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrian, “Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices.” Much of the changes regard the coverage of pregnancy-related conditions covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), meaning that employers need to make reasonable accommodations for women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth.
The ADA was enacted to prevent employers from refusing to hire or taking disciplinary action against people with disabilities, and the new pregnancy guidelines issued by the EEOC extend similar protection to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. Vedder Price, a general practice law firm with offices in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., posted a blog outlining the changes to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The blog states, “Under the new guidance, an employer is obligated to treat a pregnant employee who is temporarily unable to perform the functions of her job the same as it treats other employees similarly unable to perform their jobs, including those with disabilities.” The new act covers circumstances like lactation and breast feeding, as well as others including fertility treatments and abortion.
For small business owners, the updated PDA means that they must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women, including offering leave, allowing adequate breaks for pregnancy-related actions and allowing a lighter workload if it’s necessary without taking disciplinary action against the pregnant woman or new mother. The EEOC’s website offers more about the act and its implications for your small business.
This article was written by Alaina Brandenburger of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.