Fact or Fiction: Pregnancy is a disability under federal employment law

September 1, 2011
By Eric B. Meyer on September 1, 2011 7:00 AM | | Comments

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That's right folks. It's time for another edition of "Fact or Fiction" a/k/a "Quick Answers to Quick Questions" a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a "I don't feel like writing a long blog post".

The answer to today's question is fiction. Pregnancy is not a "disability" for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To be considered a disability under the ADA, covered persons must actually have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. Pregnancy is not considered an impairment under the law.

However, when it comes to pregnant employees, keep three things in mind:

  1. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits pregnancy-related discrimination. It requires that employers treat pregnant employees in the same manner as male and non-pregnant female employees in determining their ability to work.
  2. If an employer offers temporary or short-term disability leave, Title VII requires the employer to treat pregnancy and related conditions the same as non-pregnancy conditions.
  3. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled, for the first time, that pregnancy-related health complications can render an employee "disabled" under the ADA.