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August 14, 2014

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act gets some TLC if not a full Makeover (article)

For the first time in over 30 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance relating to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).  Since the last PDA regulations have been issued, several other laws have been enacted that have bearing on the PDA including, by way of example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The PDA, enacted in 1978, applies to employers with 15 or more employees.  Some states have pregnancy protection laws that are more generous than the federal law.

This updated EEOC guidance reminds employers about the importance of complying with the law.  A couple of matters to bear in mind are as follows:

  • Pregnancy, in and of itself, is not a disability; however, a condition arising out the pregnancy could rise to the level of a disability protected by the ADA. 
  • An individual affected by pregnancy, including a past pregnancy, a future pregnancy, or the ability to become pregnant is protected by the law.
  • To the extent that an employer provides parental leave and leave unrelated to the medical condition of the pregnancy, the leave must be equally available to both male and female parents.
  • The guidance affirms that if a plan provides prescription drug benefits, contraceptive benefits must likewise be provided.  Though, the guidance allows for the recently issued Supreme Court opinion in the Hobby Lobby case (see CBIZ Health Reform Bulletin, Preventive Services – Contraceptive Mandate, 7/2/14) pursuant to which a closely held corporation with a religious objection to some or all of the required preventive services imposed by the ACA is exempt from providing such services.

Probably the most important take-away from this guidance is for employers to treat individuals impacted by pregnancy in a fair and equal manner. 

Much will evolve in the months and years to come.  In the meantime, employers and HR departments will be busy ensuring that all of the various laws impacting pregnancy are properly coordinated.

Resource links to EEOC Guidance:

 

The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

 

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