On June 25, 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission revised its Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues to comport with the recent Young v. UPS Supreme Court decision. The case involved an employee’s ability to establish pregnancy discrimination based on an employer’s accommodation practices.
According to the decision, women may be able to prove illegal pregnancy discrimination if the employer accommodated some restricted employees yet failed to accommodate pregnant employees. The Court stated that even a pregnancy-neutral policy may violate the law if it imposes a significant burden on pregnant workers without a sufficiently strong justification.
The new guidance supersedes the July 2014 pregnancy discrimination guidance, which in large part remains unaffected, including the following topics: the application of the PDA to current, past, and potential pregnancy as well as lactation and breastfeeding; prohibition of forced leave policies and adverse employment actions based on pregnancy; prohibition of sex discrimination with respect to parental leave policies; and access to health care.
The newly issued guidance retains a best practices section with suggestions for proactive measures employers may adopt that exceed the protections federal law affords to pregnant employees. According to the commission, such policies remove obstacles to equal employment opportunity, may decrease unlawful discrimination complaints and foster productivity.