EEOC's New Pregnancy-Discrimination Guide: What Moms Need to Know

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on July 17, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

For the first time in more than 30 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued new federal guidelines about workplace pregnancy discrimination.

The EEOC's new guidelines follow an increase in complaints of pregnant workers being discriminated against over the last decade, reports The New York Times. The guidance also comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a workplace pregnancy-discrimination case during its upcoming term in October.

So what do current and future moms need to know about the new guidelines?

EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination

Officially known as the "EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues," the new guidelines are meant to clarify ambiguities regarding pregnant women's rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Here are some of the most important points from the new guidelines:

  • An employer cannot fire, demote, refuse to hire, or take any other adverse action against an employee if pregnancy, childbirth or a pregnancy-related condition is a motivating factor.
  • An employer cannot discriminate against an employee because she intends to become pregnant in the future.
  • Women may not be restricted from performing certain "dangerous" jobs because they may be (or may become) pregnant.
  • Pregnancy is not considered a disability, but pregnancy-related medical conditions or impairment are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and an employer must provide reasonable accommodations.
  • Lactation is considered a medical condition, and an employee must be able to address needs related to lactation to the same extent as any other limiting medical condition.
  • An employer may not force an employee to take leave because she is or was recently pregnant if she is able to perform her job.

The EEOC's guidelines take effect immediately, although the pending Supreme Court case could potentially affect their enforcement. You can read the new guidelines in their entirety at the EEOC's website.

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