Fact Sheet for Small Businesses: Pregnancy Discrimination, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2011)

Fact Sheet, Links

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal antidiscrimination laws, protecting employees and job applicants alike. This fact sheet explains small business – those with 15 or more employees – requirements for compliance with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, both the PDA and ADA protect workers with caregiving responsibilities from discrimination from their employer.

The PDA protects women affected by current, past, or potential pregnancies, as well as by childbirth or related medical conditions, from all aspects of employment discrimination. Moreover, in providing light duty assignments, leave, or medical benefits, employers must treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions similarly to other persons with similar ability or inability to work.

The ADA protects pregnant workers that have impairments related to their pregnancies that may qualify as disabilities under the ADA. Such impairments may qualify even if they are temporary, and they entitle affected individuals to reasonable accommodations, unless the accommodations would result in significant difficulty or expense.

Pregnant workers may be protected by other federal laws, as well. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may grant employees of employers with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a newborn child or for their own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a close family member. More information about the FMLA can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd. Additionally, Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may grant some employees special accommodations to express breast milk until their child’s first birthday. The Department of Labor has released a fact sheet about the requirement, which can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm.