It has certainly been a long time coming, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has finally issued new guidelines for discrimination against pregnant workers.
According to Newsday, the new rules expand on "many of the protections already provided by federal law but also [go] into greater depth into such issues as how pregnancy-related impairments may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]."
The revised EEOC guidelines — the first such provided in over 30 years — clarify that employers are strictly forbidden from discriminating on the grounds of an employee's current pregnancy, past pregnancies or potential for pregnancy in the future. The agency also identified impairments stemming from pregnancy — including gestational diabetes and sciatica — as physical disabilities, and discussed the need for businesses to incorporate lighter, appropriate duties for pregnant employees to accommodate.
As one attorney notes, employers should treat pregnant workers with the same benefits or accommodations that they would for employees with other short-term disabilities. This also includes requirements for parental leave, which are meant to be different from pregnancy-related medical leave and are to be dispersed equally among both male and female employees.
While a lot of these may sound obvious to the average worker or employer, the sad fact is that, all too often, pregnant women across the country are routinely discriminated against, or not given the appropriate occupational accommodations, precisely because of their pregnancy. The revised EEOC guidelines should help ensure more reasonable work environments for millions of pregnant, working women.
Unfortunately, it's more likely than not that a business here or employer there will end up violating these discrimination standards, whether willfully or otherwise. If you or a loved one believe you have been discriminated against by a Kansas City employer because of your or their pregnancy, reach out to the employment discrimination lawyers of The Meyers Law Firm today.