In light of the recent Supreme Court decision Young v. UPS, pregnancy accommodation in the workplace is once again at the forefront of employment law. Pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADA, nor is it within the scope of Title VII protections, but states are passing their own pregnancy accommodation laws. These laws will affect employers and employees alike, but exactly how is uncertain. Perhaps the most natural (and obvious) result of the explosion of state pregnancy accommodation laws will be a federal law, or an amendment to the ADA categorizing pregnancy as a disability. But there are reasons that the seemingly minimal accommodations for pregnant workers have not been met with overwhelming support. Some fear the increased cost to employers. Others fear the stigma of equating pregnancy with a disability. Nevertheless, employers will have to grapple with increased state protections supplementing the already-existing scheme of Title VII. Young adds another complication by lessening the burden to prove an employer’s duty to accommodate. For multinational corporations, tailoring their pregnancy policies to each state might prove costlier than uniformly implementing the plan of the most generous state. Employers are already accommodating disabled employees in the same manner. And these accommodations are by definition “reasonable.” Employers might not only avoid needless liability by providing accommodations to pregnant workers—even when not required—but might also gain numerous benefits, such as: increased morale; lower attrition rates; more productive workers; and better reputations. Accommodating pregnant workers seems uncontroversial, but every federal bill introduced to do so has been strongly opposed and stopped. States may now be leading the way and, ultimately, pregnancy accommodation laws will create positive benefits for women.
Stephanie A. Pisko,
Towards Reasonable: The Rise of State Pregnancy Accommodation Laws,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol23/iss1/3