The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its rules against pregnancy discrimination in 2015—the first time in over 30 years. Previously, many employers weren't entirely sure what the rules were or how they applied to their specific business. The hope is that these new clarifications will be helpful to employers, as well as the women (and men) who work for them.
So, what exactly do the new rules say? For starters, they discuss the fact that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) covers not only current pregnancies, but also past pregnancies and a woman's potential to become pregnant. In addition, the agency spelled out when companies may have to provide pregnant women with lighter duties and that they can't force a female worker to leave when she's capable of doing her job.
The policy also states that lactation counts as a medical condition and therefore guarantees nursing mothers the protection of the law (meaning a place to express milk and schedule flexibility).
And what about new dads? They benefit from the new rules, too. According to the EEOC, employers are required to provide equal parental leave for both men and women. For example, if a business offers leave to new moms beyond the time needed for physical recuperation after giving birth, it can't lawfully refuse the same amount of leave to new dads.
According to EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien, "Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than coworkers similar in their ability or inability to work."
We certainly agree, and hope these changes make the lives of new moms and moms-to-be much easier.