Does an employer have to provide a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee to allow her to perform the essential functions her job?
Americans with Disabilities Act? No. Pregnancy is not a disability. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? Well that depends. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is part of Title VII. But the current state of law is such that employers need only treat pregnant employees as they would other employees with temporary disabilities. However, most employers do afford accommodations (e.g., light duty) to employees with temporary disabilities. So, they would have to do the same for pregnant employees too.
But do I smell some duplicative federal legislation? I sure do.
The Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act, introduced a few weeks ago, seeks to require that employers provide reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. According to a press release from Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA-D), the bill would help eliminate discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace:
Pregnant workers face discrimination in the workplace every day, which is an inexcusable detriment to women and working families in Pennsylvania and across the country...My bill will finally extend fairness to pregnant women so that they can continue to contribute to a productive economy while progressing through pregnancy in good health.
Wait just a second. This sounds familiar.
Waddaya know. I blogged about this back in May (here), when the same bill called -- you guessed it -- the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was introduced in the House of Representatives.
Are these bills well intentioned? Sure. But, for the reasons noted before the jump and in my earlier post, this legislation is largely unnecessary. It doesn't sound like it's going to pass anyway. According to the Christina Wilike at Huffington Post (here), the chances of either bill passing are slim. According to Govtrack.us, the chances of passage are about 1 in 4.
This article was originally published on Eric B. Meyer's blog, The Employer Handbook.
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