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Total Articles: 37

5 FAQs on the Equality Act and Employment Nondiscrimination

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, a bill that would amend federal law (including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Accommodating Pregnant Employees in the Workplace

Two new lawsuits cast light on employers’ obligations to provide job accommodations to pregnant employees.

Does the PDA Protect Nursing Mothers From Workplace Bias? 11th Circuit Says Yes

Does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protect nursing mothers against post-pregnancy workplace discrimination? One federal court—the Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals—recently gave a resounding “yes” to that question. With its decision, the Eleventh Circuit became the second federal appellate court to answer that question in the affirmative, with the Fifth Circuit having done so in 2013. Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, No. 16-13003 (September 7, 2017).

Discrimination Due To Breastfeeding: Jury Verdict Upheld in Favor of Police Officer

Affirming that breastfeeding is a medical condition related to pregnancy and that the police department’s conduct violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), a federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld the jury’s verdict for a former Tuscaloosa, Alabama police officer. Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, No. 16-13003 (11th Cir. Sept. 7, 2017). Stephanie Hicks was awarded $374,000 in damages against the police department for pregnancy discrimination due to breastfeeding.

Lactation = Medical Condition under Federal Law

There are several federal laws with protections for pregnant employees and those employees experiencing complications from birth. Depending on the circumstances, FMLA, ADA and/or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) may be triggered. In Hicks v. Tuscaloosa, the Eleventh Circuit ruled on a case involving an employee’s post-pregnancy lactation and need to nurse her newborn.

Hiring Best Practices: 5 DOs and DON’Ts When a Job Applicant Announces a Pregnancy

Want a road map for how not to react to a successful job applicant who announces her pregnancy immediately after receiving an offer letter? Look at the reaction of one prospective employer in Florida who recently settled a legal claim on that issue. EEOC v. Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc., MDFL, No. 6:16-cv-1326-Orl-37DCI, Consent Decree signed May 3, 2017.

Employer pays $100,000 for 30 minutes of employment after firing pregnant applicant.

Want a road map on how not to react to a successful applicant who announces her pregnancy immediately after receiving an offer letter? Look at the reaction of one prospective employer in Florida, who recently settled a legal claim on that issue. EEOC v. Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc., MDFL, No. 6:16-cv-1326-Orl-37DCI, Consent Decree signed May 3, 2017.

The New And Evolving Standard For Accommodating Pregnant Employees

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued a March 2015 decision creating a new standard for how employers should accommodate pregnant employees, retailers took notice. After all, approximately 50% of retail employees are female, and in some retail lines such as clothing, women make up more than 75% of the workforce. Pregnancy is a common occurrence in the industry, and employers want to know how to comply with the law.

Failure to Promote Employee on Maternity Leave Results in Litigation

Executive Summary: When the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was enacted in 1978, employers were clearly put on notice that they are forbidden from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy. Unfortunately, charges of pregnancy discrimination are still being litigated, often with expensive consequences for employers. In August 2015, the EEOC announced that it had filed suit under the PDA against Dimensions Healthcare System claiming the Laurel, Maryland employer denied a promotion to a woman because she had taken maternity leave and, instead, promoted a less-qualified male employee. The EEOC is seeking lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief in the lawsuit.

EEOC Commissioner Offers Helpful Guidance to Employers on Providing Accommodations to Pregnant Employees

Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting with EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic on the EEOC’s pregnancy discrimination guidance and how employers should address pregnancy accommodations in the workplace. Our presentation was part of an outstanding FMLA/ADA compliance conference hosted by the Disability Management Employer Coalition. You can access BloombergBNA’s coverage of our presentation here (pdf).

News for Employers: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Is it unlawful for an employer to offer light duty to persons who are injured on the job, but not to pregnant workers? In a March, 2015 decision interpreting the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the U.S. Supreme Court has answered this question “maybe.” The case, Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., involved a driver for United Parcel Service (UPS) whose job required her to lift packages weighing up to 70 pounds. To learn about the details of the employee’s claims, the outcome of this case, and the implications this case has on employers, check out the full copy of our alert by clicking on this link.

Supreme Court's Decision in Discrimination Case Creates New Standard, Prompts Review of Employers' Pregnancy Accommodation Policies

The U.S. Supreme Court has revived a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by a part-time employee who had been placed on unpaid leave while she was expecting a baby – a decision that puts employers on notice that they should review their policies for accommodating pregnant employees. Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No. 12–1226, __ U.S. ___ (2015).

Supreme Court Delivers New Life to Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

Executive Summary: On March 25, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion that redefines the standard for disparate treatment claims under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). In Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., the Court applied the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting standard to the plaintiff's PDA claim, but held that even where an employer offers an apparently legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its actions, plaintiffs can, nevertheless, overcome this reason and establish pretext by providing sufficient evidence that the employer's policies impose a "significant burden on pregnant workers," and that the employer's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason is "not sufficiently strong to justify the burden." The Justices split 6-3 with the lead opinion authored by Justice Breyer.

Supreme Court Gives Pregnant Employees a Path Toward Securing Workplace Accommodations

All across America this morning, pregnant employees are screaming out in muted shouts of joy and giving each other belly bumps.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Employer's Light Duty Policy in Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that an employee should have her day in court to determine whether or not United Parcel Service, Inc. violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it denied light-duty work to a pregnant employee who was restricted from heavy lifting by her medical provider.

Supreme Court Forges New "Significant Burden" Interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

On March 25, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States settled a controversy surrounding an employer’s policy that provided light-duty work for certain employees (including some disabled employees) but not for pregnant workers.

What Will Be the Fate of Your (Facially Neutral) Light-Duty Policies After Young v. UPS?

With its forthcoming decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States is expected to bring some much-needed clarity to the issue of what the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), 42 U.S.C. §2000e(k), requires of employers. The case involves the legality of a policy that makes light-duty work available to certain workers, but not to pregnant employees. The employee-driver who brought the suit claims that the PDA requires that the policy offer light-duty work to pregnant workers as well. The employer has argued that the law merely requires employers to treat pregnant employees the same way it treats nonpregnant employees that are similar in their abilities—which it claims its light-duty policy has done.

EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson Offers Key Insights on EEOC's Pregnancy Discrimination Guidance

Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting with EEOC Regional Attorney in the Chicago District John Hendrickson on the EEOC’s recently drafted Pregnancy Discrimination Enforcement Guidance and how these guidelines will impact the manner in which employers will be required to provide accommodations to its pregnant employees. The session was part of my law firm’s annual employment law conference. If you missed the program, you can access the PowerPoint and audio form our presentation here. It was a great opportunity to discuss the intersection of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the American’s with Disabilities Act.

Timing Is Everything: Employee Can Advance Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

On the heels of the EEOC’s recent guidance on pregnancy discrimination, a federal court has determined that an employee who was terminated based on future pregnancy-related job restrictions may proceed to trial on her pregnancy discrimination claim. This case is timely in that it comes just ahead of Governor Quinn’s anticipated signing of House Bill 8, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act by requiring an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant worker absent an undue burden to that employer. (See June 6, 2014 Franczek Radelet Alert.)

Pregnant employee terminated because of upcoming lifting restrictions may have claim for “anticipatory discharge.”

One federal court – the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois - recently reviewed a case in which a pregnant employee was terminated after informing her employer that she would be subject to a lifting restriction beginning at the 20th week of her pregnancy. Although the employee was only in her 15th week of pregnancy, she was terminated on the same day that the employer was informed of the upcoming restriction. A federal district court has allowed her claim of “anticipatory discharge” to move ahead for a jury trial. Cadenas v. Butterfield Health Care II, Inc., N.D. Ill., No. 12-c-07750, July 15, 2014.

EEOC Updates Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues, marking the first comprehensive update of the EEOC’s guidance on the subject in over 30 years. This guidance has been issued after several states and cities including New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia have passed laws regarding accommodations for pregnant employees. Importantly, the guidance incorporates significant developments in the law that have transpired over the past three decades and also sets forth suggestions for best practices for employers to adopt with the goal of reducing the chance of pregnancy-related violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Dear Employers: We Have to Stop Sticking It to Pregnant Moms and Expectant Dads

Although I eagerly anticipate the arrival of a baby due to be born in the Nowak family within the next couple of weeks [number 4...somebody help me!], I assure you that my status as “expectant dad” is not clouding my objectivity regarding the rights of moms and dads in the workplace.

EEOC Issues Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues

Yesterday, by a 3-to-2 vote of commissioners, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved a new guidance on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The first comprehensive update on the subject of discrimination against pregnant employees in over 30 years, the “Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues” supersedes the EEOC’s 1983 Compliance Manual chapter and provides the public with information regarding the rights and obligations of all parties under the PDA. In addition, the guidance discusses the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to pregnancy-related disabilities. The federal agency also issued a “Fact Sheet for Small Businesses: Pregnancy Discrimination,” a document of questions and answers explaining the guidance and providing direction for small businesses.

New EEOC Guidance Expands Protection for Pregnant Employees

Executive Summary: The EEOC has issued new guidance on the reach of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act ("PDA"), and, not surprisingly, taken a very expansive view of the protections to be afforded pregnant employees.

New EEOC Guidance Expands Protections and Requires Accommodations for Pregnant Employees (and Reaffirms Rights for Dads, Too!)

Earlier this week, the EEOC issued new enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination, warning employers of their obligation to provide pregnant employees reasonable accommodations in the workplace and giving employers insight into how the EEOC will enforce pregnancy-related issues under Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in the future.

EEOC Updated Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination Expands Protections and Requires Accommodations for Pregnant Employees

On July 14, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues, along with a question and answer document about the updated guidance and an employer fact sheet. The updated enforcement guidance offers insight into how the EEOC will enforce the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). As expected, the guidance confirms that the EEOC will broadly interpret when pregnancy-related conditions will be considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Also, for the first time, the EEOC takes the position that the PDA requires employers to offer temporary light duty assignments to pregnant employees with work restrictions if the employer provides the same accommodation to non-pregnant employees who have similar work restrictions.

Pregnancy Accommodation Legislation - A Patchwork Employers Must Carefully Monitor

Is Pennsylvania going to join the ranks of states and municipalities requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees? Senate Bill 1209, which was recently introduced and referred to committee, is intended to do precisely that; a similar piece of legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Under the proposed Senate bill, employers with “four or more” employees in Pennsylvania would be required to provide “[a]n accommodation for as long as necessary to enable an employee to continue working despite limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions that does not present an undue hardship. . . .” The example accommodations identified in the proposed Senate bill range from “[p]roviding a chair” or “access to drinking water” to “[t]emporary job restructuring” or a “modified work schedule.” At this time, there is some uncertainty over whether the pregnancy accommodation bill introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate will be passed and signed into law.

Healthcare Industry Alert: Pregnancy-Blind Light Duty Policy Not Enough to Obtain Summary Judgment on Pregnancy Discrimination Claim in New Sixth Circuit Case

Executive Summary: The Sixth Circuit recently held that a certified nursing assistant (CNA) should be permitted to take her Pregnancy Discrimination Act claim to trial even though the employer terminated her based on its facially neutral policy that provided light duty work only for employees who were injured on the job. The court held that a jury should determine whether the policy, when considered in conjunction with discriminatory remarks made by managers, was pretext for discrimination. See Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Ctr. (6th Cir. December 23, 2013).

Light Duty Policy Limited to Work-Related Injuries Could Support Claim for Pregnancy Discrimination

In an unpublished opinion, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently sided with an employee in a pregnancy discrimination case. In Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Center, No. 12-2408 (December 23, 2013), the court reversing the lower court’s dismissal of the claim, found that the employer’s “no accommodation for non-work-related injuries” policy raised a triable issue of discrimination for a jury’s determination.

Pregnancy-related statements by managers help employee to avoid summary judgment on pregnancy discrimination claim.

In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a pregnancy discrimination claim, finding that an employer’s “no accommodation for non-work-related injuries” raised an issue of pregnancy discrimination for a jury. Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Center, 6th Cir., No. 12-2408, December 23, 2013.

The Issue of Accommodating Pregnant Employees May Reach the Supreme Court

Signaling that it is considering taking up the issue of what accommodations employers must provide for pregnant employees, the Supreme Court last month requested the Solicitor General’s opinion as to whether to accept the case of Young v. UPS for next year’s term.

Court Finds That Religious School Enforcing Bar Against Pregnancy Out of Wedlock May Be Sued For Pregnancy Discrimination June 4, 2012

A recent case in the Eleventh Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals demonstrates the limited reach of Title VII’s exemption from discrimination claims afforded to religiously affiliated institutions who fail to clearly document religious reasons for employment decisions. In Hamilton v. Southland Christian School, --F.3d---, 6:10-cv-871 (11th Cir. 2012), the plaintiff was a teacher at a Christian school who became pregnant while unmarried. The school fired her for engaging in premarital sex, which it believed was a sin. The school’s religious affiliation rendered it exempt from a claim of religious discrimination under Title VII.

Alleged comments by HR director sufficient to defeat company's motion for summary judgment.

Remarks by a law firm’s human resources director could be “direct evidence” of pregnancy discrimination and violation of the FMLA, according to the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals. According to the court, such evidence falls outside of the “hearsay” objection that might otherwise keep it from being presented to a jury. Makowski v. SmithAmundsen LLC, 7th Cir., No. 10-3330, November 9, 2011.

Actions taken out of concern for employee's pregnancy may create basis for violation of Pregnancy Discrimination Act and ADA.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a company that transferred a pregnant employee out of a welding job and into a light duty tool room job without first undertaking an objective evaluation of the employee’s ability to do the welding job may be liable for violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Spees v. JamesBuilt, LLC, 6th Circ., No. 09-5839, August 10, 2010.

High Court Overturns Pregnancy Bias Ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that an employer did not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by granting limited service credit for purposes of calculating retirement benefits for pregnancy leaves taken before Title VII was amended in 1978 by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). In a 7-2 decision, the majority found that the company based its benefit calculations on a "bona fide" seniority system.

Justices Rule for Employer in Maternity Leave Case.

On May 18, 2009, the Supreme Court upheld AT&T's method of calculating pension benefits for women who, prior to the April 1979 effective date of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), took pregnancy-related leave and did not receive full service credit for the period of their leaves.

A Bouncing Bundle Of Legal Trouble: Pregnancy Related Issues in the Workplace.

"You're too big to be working right now." Pregnancy complications aren't limited to the expecting mother. Employers may face the need to alter scheduling and even job duties to help accommodate pregnant mothers in the workplace. But employers who are not aware of laws regarding pregnancy discrimination will find themselves facing "too big" a problem.
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