Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Oct 21, 2014

Pregnancy Accommodation: Handle with care

Q&ADisability 

Q: A pregnant employee doesn’t want to work one of the jobs in a rotating shift, saying she can’t lift over 10 lbs. It happens to be the job no one wants to work. Do I have to allow her to skip it because she’s pregnant?

A: Probably. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discriminate against a woman because she’s pregnant and requires equal treatment as other employees with regard to their ability or inability to work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took this up a notch in its July 2014 guidance, stating that employers should offer light duty to pregnant employees if such light duty would be offered to an employee injured on-the-job or who has a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Essentially, the EEOC wants employers to look at the ability or inability to work, not the source of the ability or inability. This issue will be argued before the Supreme Court soon in Young v. United Parcel Service, but in the meantime, we are advising employers to consider offering light or transitional duty to pregnant employees. You can still require medical documentation and deny light duty if none is available. If you receive a pregnancy accommodation request, contact a Vigilant attorney for assistance or consult our Legal Guide, “Pregnancy and Disability” (3122).

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