Yesterday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced (here) that an employer will fork over $400,000, split among 11 women, stemming from a written policy that violates both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to the EEOC’s complaint it filed in federal court in 2021, the employer violated the PDA by maintaining a written policy requiring pregnant employees to disclose their pregnancies (while not requiring other non-pregnant employees to disclose medical conditions).
Plus, pregnant employees then allegedly had to submit to medical examinations to establish that they could work without restrictions (while not requiring similar certifications from other, non-pregnant employees). This also violates the ADA; as does suspending pregnant employees in certain job categories until they obtain those doctors’ notes, according to the EEOC.
On top of paying $400,000, the employer must stop denying pregnant workers job modifications available to other similar employees and requiring pregnant employees to obtain doctor’s notes stating that they can work without restriction.
Under current law, employers cannot condition continued employment for pregnant employees on medical exams or treat them less favorably than similar non-pregnant employees.
In June 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will require covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”
Although pregnancy is not considered a disability, a company asking employees with physical or mental impairments to certify that they are fully healed is a bad idea. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities to enable them to perform the essential functions of the job unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the business.