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Avoid business litigation by protecting new mothers

Avoid business litigation by protecting new mothers

For some businesses, pregnancy can be a confusing topic as they may not know what is legally required. Indeed, not understanding what constitutes sex discrimination, as it relates to pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions can be complicated. But, to avoid business litigation on this topic, understanding it is essential.

Pregnancy-related impairments

One point of confusion for some Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, employers is the fact that pregnancy itself does not qualify as a disability under Title I of Americans with Disabilities. This has led some employers to deny reasonable accommodation requests from pregnant employees based on the mistaken belief that pregnancy does not qualify for an RA. However, pregnancy-related impairments can qualify. For example, if a pregnant employee has a pregnancy impairment that makes standing for long periods painful and dangerous, a RA request may include a request for a chair. Denying that RA request may qualify as illegal discrimination.

Pregnancy-related medical conditions

Pregnancy-related medical conditions are also included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. This also relates to medical conditions related to pregnancy. For example, back pain, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc. No adverse action can be taken as a result of these pregnancy-related medical conditions.

Lactation

Unbeknownst to some Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, employers is the fact that lactation also qualifies as a medical condition related to pregnancy. This means that employers must allow the same flexibilities for lactation that it provides to other employees for their general medical needs. In addition, the PDA and additional provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that amended the Fair Labor Standards Act add additional employer requirements for lactating employees. Specifically, employers must provide break times for lactation and a private space to lactate.