EEOC Updates Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination
On June 25, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released an updated Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues. The agency made the updates in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. United Parcel Serv., Inc. (- U.S. -, 135 S.Ct. 1338 (2015)) in March 2015.
Young sued the United Parcel Service (UPS) when it did not provide her with the same work accommodations that were provided to similarly situated, non-pregnant employees. Young’s lawsuit alleged that UPS violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
Although much of the enforcement guidance remains the same from the previous July 2014 version, the updated guidance reflects the court’s decision that women may be able to prove unlawful pregnancy discrimination if an employer accommodated some workers but refused to accommodate pregnant workers. Additionally, even if the employer’s policies are not intended to discriminate against pregnant employees, the policies may still violate the PDA if they impose significant burdens on pregnant employees without a sufficiently strong justification.
The EEOC also published these Questions and Answers about the updated guidance and a Fact Sheet for Small Business on Pregnancy Discrimination.
California employers: Remember, California’s pregnancy discrimination laws may provide greater protections to pregnant employees than federal laws. The practices at issue in the Young case wouldn’t pass muster in California. California regulations establish that it is illegal for an employer to deny a pregnant employee a transfer to a less strenuous/hazardous position if the employer maintains a policy allowing such transfers for other types of temporarily disabled employees, including those who suffered an on-the-job injury.