EEOC issues new guidance on pregnancy discrimination that may affect your current policies and practices.

In July 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new “Enforcement Guidance” on pregnancy discrimination, interpreting the compliance obligations imposed on employers by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These guidelines do not have the force of law, but will be applied by the EEOC when a charge of pregnancy discrimination is brought before the Commission.

The new Enforcement Guidance is an extensive set of guidelines. In general, the Guidance interprets the PDA broadly, clarifying issues relating to when an employer’s actions may constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or “related medical conditions.”  The Guidance clarifies that the PDA prohibits discrimination not just against pregnant women, but also against women with past pregnancies, lactating women, and women who may become or intend to become pregnant.

Under the new enforcement guidelines, employers should not impose  leave or work modifications on a pregnant employee, and must offer light duty or flexible scheduling to pregnant women under the same circumstances it is offered to other employees.

A detailed discussion of Enforcement Guidance is beyond the scope of this “Hot Topics” alert.  Check with your employment counsel for more detailed information.

A list of “Best Practices” suggested for employers by the EEOC are described in this website on the Home Page under the “Q & A” section.

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