The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) appears to be on the verge of issuing new guidelines on pregnancy discrimination. Following a large and rapidly increasing number of lawsuits centering around pregnancy bias, the EEOC seems poised to take action following comments made by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. The EEOC would seek to clear up a number of issues involving the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Solicitor General was quoted in a brief for a case brought forward by UPS worker Peggy Young, who was forced to take unpaid leave and lost her medical coverage after UPS denied her request for light duty assignments. Young made her request after her doctor recommended she not lift more than 20lbs during pregnancy. However, the PDA was designed to make employers “pregnancy-blind” and increase pregnant women in the workplace. It does not force employers to accommodate pregnant workers. In contrast, the ADA does impose such requirements on employers.
The issue then would be whether courts should treat pregnancy as equivalent to a temporary disability in instances such as these that involve heavy lifting. Solicitor General Verrilli Jr. seems to suggest that pregnant women will be better accommodated, saying “The EEOC is currently considering the adoption of new enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination that would address a range of issues related to pregnancy under the PDA and the ADA.”
Look out in the near future for a new set of guideline from the EEOC that should be favorable to pregnant employees.