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Discrimination against pregnant women may get more defined

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, or PDA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, or ADAAA, were intended to prevent pregnant workers from being discriminated against due to pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions. There seems to be some ambiguity in the laws that may need further clarification. Two complaints recently filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may help provide better definitions concerning these areas of employment discrimination. One complaint was filed by a hospital worker in Florida, and the other was filed by a UPS driver.

The Florida hospital worker requested that she not be required to lift anything over 20 pounds after she reached her 23rd week of pregnancy. A chiropractic neurologist wrote the woman a note indicating that she suffered from pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome which causes pain in her arms. Her employer insisted that she have a note from her obstetrician; but her obstetrician did not possess the expertise to confirm or deny she suffered from the condition. As a result, she was placed on leave without pay without her consent.

The UPS driver was offered light duty during her pregnancy last year. However, the company also said that she would not receive any time toward her seniority or benefits while she was on light duty. The driver indicated in her EEOC complaint that this was not on par with what others received when they were put on light duty.

Both of these cases have the potential of giving employers and employees further clarification of what they are supposed to do to accommodate pregnant employees. Many pregnant women are able to work up to the time they deliver without any problems. However, there are certain occupations that make it more difficult for pregnant women to perform their duties as their pregnancy progresses. Any pregnant woman should feel free to ask for reasonable accommodations during her pregnancy without becoming the victim of discrimination.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Two new cases seek to clarify pregnancy discrimination laws," Anna Louie Sussman, April 1, 2013

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