EEOC Updates Pregnancy Discrimination Guidance

Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, an update to enforcement guidance issued last July, along with a question and answer document and a fact sheet for small businesses. All can be accessed on the EEOC’s website.

The updates address issues raised in Young v. UPS (U.S. 2015), issued last March. They reflect the Supreme Court’s conclusion that women may be able to prove unlawful pregnancy discrimination if the employer accommodated some workers but refused to accommodate pregnant women. The Court explained that employer policies that are not intended to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy may still violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) if the policy imposes significant burdens on pregnant employees without a sufficiently strong justification.

Young does not impact most of the July 2014 guidance, including the following topics:

  • the PDA’s application to current, past, and potential pregnancy;
  • termination or refusal to hire someone because she is pregnant and other prohibited employment actions based on pregnancy;
  • application of the PDA to lactation and breastfeeding;
  • prohibition of forced-leave policies;
  • the obligation to treat women and men the same with respect to parental leave policies; and
  • access to health insurance.

MSEC will continue to monitor new guidance and other information forthcoming from the EEOC.