Employment Law Blog

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Sep 13, 2012

Pregnancy-Related Complications Can Be a Disability under the ADA

DisabilityLeave Laws 

Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pregnancy is generally not considered a disability. However, it may qualify as one if an employee is suffering from a medical condition that is stemming from her pregnancy.

Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pregnancy is generally not considered a disability. However, it may qualify as one if an employee is suffering from a medical condition that is stemming from her pregnancy. In a recent case, an employer may have violated the ADA by refusing to accommodate an employee’s pregnancy-related medical complications. The employee’s doctor put her on bed rest for three weeks due to her baby being in a breech position, which was causing the employee severe health problems.


The employer, who was not subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), initially granted the three-week leave of absence, but then fired the employee when she returned to work. The employer told the pregnant employee that she would not be treated differently because she was pregnant and that no accommodation was available. A federal district court is allowing the employee to present her case to a jury, stating that when a medical condition arises out of a pregnancy, it may fall within the ADA’s protections (Mayorga v. Alorica, Inc., SD Florida, July 2012).


Tip for Employers: When an employee is having medical issues related to her pregnancy, you should first evaluate whether she is eligible to take protected leave under the FMLA or state leave laws. But even if protected leave laws don’t apply, do not automatically deny time off until you have evaluated whether the condition could qualify as a disability. Need to know more about the ADA? Check out Vigilant’s Legal Guide, “At a Glance: Americans with Disabilities Act” (6016).

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