Revised EEOC Guidelines on Pregnancy Discrimination
Last month, the EEOC released revised guidelines on pregnancy discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), and other related statutes, including the FMLA and the ADA. Among the new guidelines issued, the EEOC now says that discrimination on the basis of prior and potential pregnancy, and pregnancy related conditions, is illegal.
While a “current pregnancy,” or the time a female employee is actually pregnant, was part of the EEOC’s prior guidelines on prohibited discrimination, the new guidelines expand coverage to include prior and potential pregnancies. For employers, this means that pregnancy discrimination is not limited to the time from conception to delivery, but includes discrimination based upon a woman’s: potential to be pregnant (e.g., that she is of child-bearing age); intention to become pregnant (e.g., trying to become pregnant); and/or medical treatment to become pregnant, including infertility and IVF treatments, or to terminate pregnancy.
The EEOC’s guidelines also have been expanded to protect medical conditions related to pregnancy. The guidelines provide a non-exhaustive list of examples of what is intended to be covered, including back pain, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, lactation, and other conditions that may require bed rest. The guidelines further make clear that pregnancy-related conditions may be covered by the ADA if they meet the definition of “disability” and the employer is otherwise covered by the Act. An employer may be required under the ADA to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees for pregnancy-related conditions that constitute a disability. Reasonable accommodations may include redistribution of marginal job functions, changing how a job function is performed (e.g., sitting versus standing), modifying work schedules, modifying workplace policies, providing a temporary light-duty position, and/or granting leave.
Finally, the EEOC’s guidelines state that if an employer typically provides parental leave, or leave to bond with and care for a newborn, it must be provided to both men and women on the same terms. For employers, this means that any leave time extended to mothers beyond an initial recuperation from childbirth, must be given equally to fathers on the same terms.
If you have questions regarding these new guidelines or the PDA and its application, please contact a member of our Labor & Employment Law practice group.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
Bugbee & Conkle will hold its Annual Employment Law Seminar at the Hilton Garden Inn, 6165 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg, Ohio on September 25, 2014! Register here.
Federal Contractors and LGBT Discrimination
On July 21, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order No. 11246, an order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This is often referred to as LGBT discrimination, which stands for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender. Although prior Executive Orders already prohibit discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of race, color, gender, religion and national origin, the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to that list is new.
Federal law, and most state laws, prohibiting discrimination in employment do not currently include sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected category. Although some states prohibit such discrimination, and the trend is toward adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of prohibited categories, the Executive Order makes such discrimination immediately unlawful if done by federal contractors.
Furthermore, the penalties for violation of the Executive Order based upon any of the prohibited classes of discrimination are severe. Previously, federal contractors who discriminate were subject to having their contracts suspended. The new Executive Order adds to this list of potential remedies the cancellation of a current government contract and debarment from future government work. These are very drastic remedies, and all federal contractors should be aware of them.
If you have any questions concerning this new Executive Order, including whether you are a federal contractor subject to it, please contact any one of the members of our Labor & Employment Law practice group.
HRCI Credits For This Year’s Seminar
As we have done before, we have applied for 2.7 hours of HRCI credits for those attending our Employment Law Seminar on September 25, 2014.
The seminar will include many topics affecting Ohio employers. Presentations will cover employers’ obligations when outside parties make claims against an employee’s paycheck, an overview of employee benefit law, training to help employers meet their obligations in situations of claimed or threatened workplace harassment, and an in-depth examination of an employer’s obligations under the disability discrimination laws.