Three federal laws and enforcement priorities of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are making state pregnancy leave and accommodations laws a subject of concern for employers who want to be in compliance and do the right thing for their employees. In addition to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 received a re-charge last July when the EEOC published a guidance document about enforcement of the PDA. “The good news is that the EEOC’s July 2014 guidance was the first comprehensive update by the EEOC on the rights of pregnant workers since the 1983 publication of a Compliance Manual chapter on the subject, and this new guidance supersedes that chapter,” said Reed Group Compliance Director Megan Holstein, Esq. “However, the EEOC’s guidance substantially expanded upon the EEOC’s previous interpretation regarding the rights of pregnant employees under the PDA and ADA. The EEOC’s guidance now includes the mandate that an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee with a normal pregnancy.1 And it was issued while the very topic of workplace accommodations for a pregnant employee is sitting in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc.,2 creating the potential for multiple interpretations and possible confusion resulting from conflicting guidance on the subject.”
Most employers who monitor EEOC enforcement priorities are aware of the federal ferment over pregnancy leaves. For some employers, pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions are the largest single category of leave or disability. State laws can be challenging. National employers especially have difficulty staying current with the ever-changing state laws affecting this leave category; 27 states and Washington, DC have such laws. To fill this gap, Reed Group has provided @Work a listing of state laws related to pregnancy leave and discrimination protections. The chart below, “State Pregnancy Leave and Anti- Discrimination Laws” is an extract from a more complete Reed Group LeaveAdvisorTM resource, including federal laws, and providing more detailed language about the laws. This chart, published in @Work and at www.dmec.org, does not include states without such laws, or with no laws scheduled for implementation, as of December 2014. Those 23 states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming. The state laws listed on the chart include laws prohibiting discrimination against pregnant women, and require an employer to apply the same benefits, terms, and conditions to pregnancy, birth, recovery or associated conditions as applied to other temporary disabilities or impairments. Because language in state laws varies, Reed Group has provided a footnote for each listing with a reference to the actual state statute. “The statutes cited often list potential accommodations,” notes Holstein. “However, all indicate that the enumerated accommodations are not the only accommodations. Therefore, even if the statute does not specify leave or time-off as an accommodation, it is likely that such an accommodation would be available if appropriate under the circumstances.” Among the 27 states and District of Columbia having such pregnancy laws, California, Washington DC, and Kansas have two laws in place or planned.
2. Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 707 F.3d 437 (4th Cir. 2013).