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.

About Michael Miller

Michael is a Chambers-rated attorney in Briggs and Morgan's Employment, Benefits, and Labor group and is head of the firm’s Employment Law Counseling and Compliance practice group. He has 25 years experience counseling employers to prevent unwanted litigation and advises companies of ongoing changes in federal, state and local employment law. Michael advises employers in all areas of employment law including discipline and discharge, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, affirmative action plans, background checking, and drug/alcohol testing. For Michael's full bio, click here.

Posted on May 21, 2014, in Accommodations and Accessibility, Family and Medical Leave Act. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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