Wednesday, July 23, 2014

EEOC Issues New Pregnancy Discrimination Guidelines

As of July 14 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new guidance on pregnancy discrimination, updating and replacing its previous longstanding guidance. With this new guidance the EEOC hopes to address the longstanding uncertainty revolving around the interaction between the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the EEOC’s decision to replace its 1983 guidance, comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear Young v. UPS. Here the Supreme Court has been asked to determine what accommodations, if any, the PDA requires from employers. So there is a potential that the EEOC’s new guidelines may be made moot, depending on the Court’s ruling.
Pending the ruling in Young, the EEOC’s new guidance covers the best ways that employers can avoid unlawful discrimination against pregnant employees.  The new guidance includes equal access to benefits such as light duty, leave, and health care. Also the new guidance sets forth reasonable break times for nursing mothers. The EEOC also stated that employers may be in violation of VII by providing health insurance plans that exclude coverage for prescription contraceptives. However, given the recent ruling in Hobby Lobby, the EEOC will need to clarify its position to stay within the bounds of the Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby