Is discrimination for being pregnant treated the same way as disability discrimination?

Related Ads

Talk to a Lawyer Near You

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

searchbox small

Question:

I am in my third-trimester of my pregnancy and have developed severe complications, which have resulted in premature labor.  My doctor has put me on modified bed rest, which means I cannot leave my house.  My job as a website programmer is one that can be done by telecommuting.  My employer is unwilling to let me work from home.  He thinks it will set a precedent with all of the other employees.  Does this fall under the laws governing disability discrimination?

Answer:

Sometimes the stress of life in combination with the physical stress of pregnancy creates a situation where the pregnancy is threatening to end early.  Bed rest is one of the tools used to help prevent preterm birth.  Pregnancy by itself is not considered disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act because it does not meet part of the definition of disability.  However, complications resulting from pregnancy and impairments exacerbated by pregnancy may constitute disabilities.  A person must have an impairment that substantially limits one of more major life activities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination based on disability.  A disability is defined as a physical or mental problem that greatly limits a major life activity such as walking, breathing, seeing, hearing, or speaking.  The job seeker or employee must satisfy the requirements of the position based on skills and experience.  Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to allow a disabled employee to work successfully.  An employer can only terminate your employment based on your disability, if the disability stops you from doing your job properly and your special needs cannot be reasonably accommodated.

Even if an employer doesn’t allow other employees to work from home, it must allow a disabled worker to do so if that’s the only reasonable accommodation available.  Employees also have rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

LA-NOLO6:DRU.1.6.2.20140917.28520