WASHINGTON – The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission yesterday issued the first enforcement guidance protecting pregnant workers in more than 30 years. The guidance clarifies employers’ obligations towards pregnant workers under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Far too many pregnant workers have been forced off the job and denied a paycheck just when they need it most, despite the fact that they are willing and able to come to work," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. "No woman should be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and the paycheck she needs to provide for her family. The ACLU has long advocated for the rights of pregnant and breastfeeding workers, and we are pleased that this guidance moves us towards greater equality and fairness in the workplace."

The EEOC’s guidance asserts that employers must give pregnant workers reasonable accommodations like light duty work on the same terms as they grant such accommodations to other workers with similar temporary restrictions. It also clarifies that employers may not force pregnant workers who can work to take leave.

The guidance explains that many pregnancy-related impairments will qualify directly for reasonable accommodations under the American with Disabilities Act. Additionally, it makes clear that discrimination against breastfeeding workers is covered under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.