Updated Pregnancy Discrimination Guidance

Posted September 14, 2015 Industry Insights, Expert Tips, Company News

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Young v. UPS has prompted the EEOC to announce an update to its Enforcement Guide on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (“Enforcement Guidance”).

In Young v. UPS, the Court interpreted a new standard for claims brought under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), or when a plaintiff claims that she has been denied accommodation for a pregnancy-related work restriction, but afforded to others who are not pregnant. If an employer cites a neutral policy as its legitimate reason for differential treatment, under the new standard, a plaintiff can show that the policy is discriminatory by illustrating that the policy imposes a “significant burden” on pregnant workers. Employees can also show that the policy is not “sufficiently strong to justify the burden.”

The Enforcement Guidance supports this language, stating, “[e]mployer policies that do not facially discriminate on the basis of pregnancy may nonetheless violate… the PDA where they impose significant burdens on pregnant employees that cannot be supported by a sufficiently strong justification.” The Enforcement Guidance further indicates that a plaintiff can establish a case of discrimination, unless proved otherwise, by showing that she is pregnant, that she requested an accommodation, that her request was denied and that her employer accommodated others who were “similar in their ability or inability to work.”

This new Enforcement Guidance supersedes the version the EEOC issued in July of 2014 (shortly after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Young case). No additional changes were made to the original version.

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