While the Trump administration has made reducing workplace mandates and regulations a priority from the beginning, that effort does not cover all agencies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), for instance, operates independently, and, as the news website HR Dive reports, it seems to be focused on the same priorities it had before the presidential election.
“Despite a change in administrations — and an obvious shift in enforcement at other agencies — the independent EEOC appears focused on many of its same priorities, including pregnancy accommodation,” wrote author Valerie Bolden-Barrett.
She pointed out that a sports bar and restaurant recently paid $24,000 to resolve an EEOC claim that it fired a pregnant worker because she stopped wearing the company’s required uniform. And Wednesday, it announced that it has sued a healthcare facility for not accommodating the work restrictions of a pregnant nursing assistant.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including pregnancy-related conditions. This mean a company that offers a particular accommodation to employees who are temporarily disabled, must also offer them to pregnant employees.
In addition to federal law, New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnancy-related needs when requested by an employee with a doctor’s note. These accommodations could include bathroom breaks, breaks for increased water intake, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring or modified work schedules, and temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, for needs related to the pregnancy. Employers also can’t penalize pregnant women for using an accommodation or treat them less favorably than other workers.
“For employers, the key to avoiding such claims may be training,” Bolden-Barrett writes. “Experts continue to note that front-line managers cause a significant number of violations, and EEOC recommends that managers be trained to recognize requests for accommodation.”