Accommodation of Pregnancy Complications Under the ADA and FMLA
Although Minnesota state law now requires employers to provide accommodations for any pregnant employee, it is important to remember that accommodations or leaves of absence may be required under federal law as well.
Unfortunately, pregnant employees may occasionally experience complications with their pregnancy. As a result, these employees may seek accommodations from their employer, including a leave of absence. In many instances, the employee will be eligible for an FMLA leave. For example, FMLA may be used for absences related to pregnancy-related incapacities, including morning sickness. 29 C.F.R. § 825.120(a)(4). A spouse may also be entitled to FMLA to care for the pregnant employee who is incapacitated. 29 C.F.R. § 825.120(a)(5).
Beyond the FMLA, pregnant employees may also be entitled to reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As noted in a recent case, even temporary impairments related to pregnancy complications may be covered ADA disabilities, if sufficiently severe. Heatherly v. Portillo’s Hot Dogs, Inc., 958 F.Supp.2d 913 (N.D. Ill. 2013).
Takeaway: In addition to considering their obligations under Minnesota’s new pregnancy accommodation rule, employers should also consider whether employees who are experiencing pregnancy-related complications may require accommodations or leaves of absence under the ADA or FMLA.