Employment-EEOC Issues Fact Sheet for Small Businesses Discussing Pregnancy Discrimination, Including Effect On Benefits

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) has issued a Fact Sheet discussing pregnancy discrimination. The Fact Sheet is being issued by the EEOC, along with Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and FAQs on the Enforcement Guidance. The Fact Sheet is here.

This document explains the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (the “PDA”), as well as the requirements of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) as it applies to women with pregnancy-related disabilities. The PDA and ADA apply to employers with 15 or more employees.

As to employee benefits and matters, the Fact Sheet says:

In General. The PDA requires that a covered employer treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. The PDA covers all aspects of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, and fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance benefits). Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, and potential pregnancy.

An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of a medical condition related to pregnancy and must treat the employee the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work but are not affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. For example, under the PDA, since lactation is a medical condition related to pregnancy, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of her breastfeeding schedule. (For information about a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that provides additional protections for breastfeeding employees, see the section on “Other Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Workers” below.).

Benefits At Work. An employer must provide the same benefits of employment to women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions that it provides to other persons who are similar in their ability or inability to work. The PDA requires employers who offer health insurance to include coverage of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. An employer must provide the same terms and conditions for pregnancy-related benefits as it provides for benefits relating to other medical conditions.