Article Contributor: Kathryn Carlson
The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAAA) protects a broader range of people than many managers realize; it also protects individuals with less permanent disabilities, such as pregnancy. Many states have their own guidelines and rules regarding reasonable accommodation, but there are a few small things that managers can do to avoid pregnancy discrimination without deeply investigating their own state laws.
The most important thing to remember is that women have the right to work throughout their pregnancy. Additionally, employers cannot make a decision on behalf of their pregnant employees regarding whether to work or not to work during a pregnancy. While employers may request a doctor’s authorization for employees to continue in certain positions or with certain job duties, the employer and employee must come to a reasonable agreement regarding pregnancy accommodation.
Pregnancy accommodation does not have to be a difficult task. In fact, a few simple guidelines can help to accommodate many pregnant employees:
Address physical demands:
Many women can continue physically demanding jobs, especially if they are appropriately accommodated. Ways to assist include providing lift aids, stools or ergonomic chairs, or alternative workstations. If necessary, managers may assign them temporary duties that are better suited to them during their pregnancy.
Shift schedule adjustments:
Flexibility may help a pregnant employee in many ways. Consider accommodating pregnant employees with flexible arrival time, part or full-time telecommuting, flexible use of leave, additional rest periods, and frequent food, water, and bathroom breaks.
Modify policies where possible:
A small accommodation may make a big difference to a pregnant employee. Consider relaxing policies such as “no food or drink at desk” or “no sitting.”
While creating these accommodations it is very important to review all possible ways to accommodate employees and realize that not all employees will need the same accommodations. Ensure that both parties comes to an agreement that they can agree upon.
Pregnancy discrimination was recently in the news when a former UPS employee took her case to the Supreme Court. Find out what happened here.
Have further questions regarding pregnancy accommodation? Email [email protected].