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Is Pregnancy a Disability Under the ADA?

July 3, 2015 Americans with Disabilities Act Claims

Feds issue new enforcement guidelines on pregnancy discrimination

Even though women have been a presence in the workforce for generations now, the laws surrounding how pregnant women are treated on the job are still evolving.

That’s especially true when it comes to workplace safety. However, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court brought pregnant women’s rights to safe working conditions into sharper focus. (See our blog posts about the case here and here.)

As a result of that decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has just issued updated guidance on pregnant women’s rights in the workplace. Keep in mind, any time the EEOC updates guidelines on a specific topic, it’s often a safe bet to assume that the agency will make the issue an enforcement priority.

Let’s dig in and take a closer look at what the guidelines say.

Supreme Court Leads the Charge

The updated EEOC guidance pertains to the Supreme Court ruling in Young v. UPS.

In that case, the Court determined that it was unlawful for a company to allow non-pregnant workers to do light-duty work, but then deny that opportunity to women who were pregnant.

The Court stated that even though a policy may be intended to be neutral, it could still have an unfair impact on pregnant women.

For example, say a company has a policy that no one is allowed light-duty work unless he or she is recovering from a workplace injury. That policy may have a disparate impact on pregnant women, because they may have been denied light-duty in disproportionately larger numbers than the rest of the workforce.

How the ADA Factors In

While the Supreme Court ruling didn’t discuss pregnancy in relation to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the EEOC made special mention of this relationship in its notice about the updated guidelines.

Specifically, it noted that while pregnancy itself may not be considered a disability, expansions to the ADA mean that many more pregnancy-related conditions may qualify pregnant women to ADA protection.

For instance, if a woman suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome related to her pregnancy, she could be entitled to accommodations under the ADA.

Contact Murphy Law for a Free Consultation

Employment issues related to pregnancy can be particularly complicated, as they may relate multiple federal regulations. If you’ve been treated unfairly because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related issue, it’s best to speak to an attorney.

Email us at, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.