New EEOC Guidance Affirms Strong Protections for Pregnant Workers

New EEOC Guidance Affirms Strong Protections for Pregnant Workers
July 14, 2014

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues. This is the first comprehensive update of the Commission's guidance regarding discrimination against pregnant workers in 30 years, and it clarifies existing law which provides strong protections for pregnant workers.

Important components of the EEOC guidance include:

  • Employers may not force pregnant workers to take leave if they can perform their job;
  • Discrimination based on lactation is unlawful;
  • Women with pregnancy-related impairments may be entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA;
  • Employers who provide light duty to workers injured on the job must provide light duty to pregnant workers who are similar in their ability or inability to work;
  • Employers who provide parental leave to women after recovery from childbirth must extend equivalent parental leave to new fathers; and
  • Discrimination against caregivers may constitute unlawful discrimination based on sex or disability.

The new guidance follows the EEOC’s 2012 Public Meeting on Unlawful Discrimination against Pregnant Workers and Caregivers. Sharon Terman, Director of LAS-ELC’s Work and Family Program, testified before the EEOC at the 2012 meeting, and today’s guidance cites to Sharon’s written testimony.

“Pregnant workers should not have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and their livelihood, at the time they most need their income,” said Sharon. “Today’s guidance affirms that existing law provides strong protections for pregnant workers and prohibits employers from pushing pregnant women out of their jobs.” 

The implications of this new guidance for working women across the country are significant.  Approximately three fourths of women entering the workplace today will become pregnant at some point while employed. At the same time, pregnancy discrimination complaints have been on the rise in recent years.

LAS-ELC is responding to this need, helping pregnant women, new parents and caregivers through our Work & Family helpline (800-880-8047) by providing free and confidential legal advice about workplace rights. We also represent pregnant workers whose rights are violated on the job.