On July 14, 2014 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new enforcement guidelines under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Such guidelines are not binding upon employers; rather, they instruct EEOC investigators about issues to watch for when investigating claims under the PDA.
First, the new guidelines expand the group of protected persons by making it clear that employers may not discriminate against female employees who might get pregnant or have previously been pregnant. Additionally, employers may not base employment decisions upon medical conditions related to pregnancy, such as infertility treatment, the use of contraceptives, breastfeeding or lactation. And finally, in a nod to fathers, the EEOC takes the position that employers that allow parental leave for women must also allow it for men.
The EEOC also said that the PDA requires employers to offer temporary light-duty work to pregnant employees if they offer similar light-duty work to non-pregnant employees and that employers may not force an employee to take leave because she is pregnant if she is able to perform the job. Citing the Affordable Care Act, the EEOC also said that an employer’s health insurance plan must cover prescription contraceptives on the same basis as prescription drugs.
The EEOC’s new enforcement guidelines come as the Supreme Court prepares to consider Young v. United Parcel Service Inc., a case that could expand or contract rights under the PDA. As a result, many see the EEOC’s announcement as premature.
For more information about the new EEOC guidelines, please contact any of the attorneys at BurnsBarton PLC.