With jurisdictions across the country slowly easing up on rigorous closures and other restrictions, employers are itching to resume operations and reclaim some semblance of normalcy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has updated its guidance for employers dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The following FAQs address the the EEOC’s pregnancy-related guidance.
The EEOC’s Updated Guidance: Pregnancy-Related Guidance
Due to the pandemic, may an employer exclude an employee from the workplace involuntarily due to pregnancy?
No. An employer may not exclude an employee from the workplace involuntarily due to pregnancy. Pregnancy discrimination is considered sex discrimination and is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Even if motivated by an altruistic concern for the employee, employers are prohibited from singling out workers on the basis of pregnancy for adverse employment actions. This includes involuntary leave, layoff, or furlough.
Is there a right to accommodation based on pregnancy during the pandemic?
Yes. There are two federal employment discrimination laws that may trigger accommodation for pregnant employees. These are the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act).
Americans With Disabilities Act
Pregnancy-related medical conditions may be considered disabilities under the ADA, although pregnancy itself is not an ADA disability. If an employee makes a request for reasonable accommodation due to a pregnancy-related condition, the employer is obliged to consider the request under ADA rules.
As amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII specifically requires that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions be treated the equal to others who are similar in ability or inability to work. A pregnant employee may be entitled to job modifications, such as telework, modified work schedules or assignments, and leave (to the extent provided to similarly situated employees).
Employment Attorneys At McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate On Behalf Of COVID-19 Workers
Our passionate employment law attorneys understand that we are living in an unprecedented time and that for all workers, anxiety, fear, and frustration are all very real. The attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. take a proactive approach to each and every legal issue our clients face. Please call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, OR contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.