• EEOC Issues Guidances on Equal Pay and Pregnancy Discrimination
  • July 26, 2016
  • Law Firm: - Office
  • On June 14, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new resource documents addressing equal pay and legal rights for pregnant workers.

    Equal Pay and the Proposal to Collect Pay Data. Earlier this year, the EEOC and the Department of Labor published a rule in the Federal Register proposing the annual collection of summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from employers, including federal contractors, with 100 or more employees. The EEOC has proposed to revise the Employer Information Report (EEO-1) to collect this pay data from employers.

    According to the EEOC, the new pay data would provide the EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the Department of Labor with insight into pay disparities across industries and occupations and strengthen federal efforts to combat discrimination. The agencies would use this pay data to assess complaints of discrimination at the initial stages of an investigation, focus agency investigations, and identify existing pay disparities that may warrant further examination.

    In March 2016, the EEOC held a public hearing and heard extensive testimony on the proposal. The EEOC will submit any revisions to the proposal for a second comment period later this summer.

    Pregnancy Discrimination. The EEOC’s guidance summarizes employee rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the PDA, employers are not allowed to discriminate against an employee based on the fact that an employee is pregnant, was pregnant, could become pregnant or intend to become pregnant, has a medical condition that is related to pregnancy, or had an abortion, or is considering having an abortion. The guidance makes clear that an employer does not have to keep an employee in a job that the employee is unable to perform or in which the employee would pose a significant safety risk for others in the workplace. An employer will need to conduct an assessment of whether a safety risk is real and not simply assumed. An employer cannot remove the employee from the employee’s job or place the employee on leave based only on a belief that work would pose a risk to the employee or the employee’s pregnancy.

    The guidance also addresses accommodations for employees who have difficulties performing their job because of pregnancy or a medical condition related to pregnancy. Types of accommodations specifically identified in the EEOC’s guidance include: altered break and work schedules (e.g., breaks to rest or use the restroom), permission to sit or stand, ergonomic office furniture, shift changes, elimination of marginal job functions, leave (which could also be job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act), and permission to work from home.

    Accommodations under the PDA are available if an employer gives accommodations to employees who have limitations that are similar to the pregnant employee, but were not caused by pregnancy. Accommodations are also available for a pregnancy-related medical condition that would fall under the definition of disability under the ADA. Such types of disabilities include cervical insufficiency, anemia, sciatica, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or depression.