May 12, 2015

The Intersection of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Employer’s Workplace Policy (article)

The Intersection of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Employer’s Workplace Policy

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was enacted in 1978 to ensure that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions be treated in the same manner as other applicants and employees on the basis of their ability or inability to work.  Examples of acceptable workplace accommodations would include allowing a pregnant employee to change her work status from regular duty to light duty or modify the lifting restrictions of the job for the duration of the pregnancy.


In a recent case (Young v. United Parcel Service), the Supreme Court outlined steps to be taken in order to determine whether a workplace policy is discriminatory against pregnant workers.  The individual must show that she belongs to the protected class, that she sought accommodation, that the employer did not accommodate her, and that the employer did accommodate others similar in their ability or inability to work.  Once these criteria are met, then the employer can seek to justify its refusal to accommodate the individual by relying on “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons” for denying accommodation.  The case has now been sent back to the lower courts to apply these criteria for purposes of determining whether the employer’s policy was, in fact, discriminatory.  Particularly being scrutinized is the employer’s practice to provide limited or light duty to certain individuals, such as those with a work injury or those protected by the ADA, but not providing such alternative duties to individuals limited by pregnancy.

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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