Q. Since pregnancy does not qualify as a disability under the ADA, our company denies all special accommodation requests granted by otherwise healthy employees who are pregnant. Does this policy make us vulnerable to a lawsuit?
A. Yes, it does. While not explicitly identified as a disability under the ADA, the(PDA) requires employers to treat pregnant employees at least as well it treats other temporarily disabled employees.
In addition, ADA amendments further expand the definition of “impairments” to include those that are temporary or less severe. It also clarifies that impairments that substantially limits a major life activity are covered by the ADA, and that those include everyday activities such as walking, standing, lifting or bending.
The EEOC (which enforces the PDA) recently issued new guidance on the requirement to provide a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant worker. This guidance provides that employers should apply policies consistently to both pregnant and nonpregnant employees, and take the same care in considering a pregnant worker’s accommodation request as they would with a nonpregnant worker’s request.
Megan L. Anderson is an attorney with Gray Plant Mooty’s Employment Law Practice Group in Minneapolis. Concentrating her practice in employment law counseling and litigation, she regularly advises employers and provides training on a variety of employment law issues. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (612) 632-3004.