Is pregnancy covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? For most expectant women the answer is no. They are feeling either too well, or too poorly to qualify. A small group in the middle is eligible.
Twenty-five percent of expectant women will experience one or more complications. Those able to continue working are covered.
The protections end if you need to take a pregnancy leave of absence for bed rest or other serious medical reasons.
- When pregnancy is and is not a disability
- How to replace income during leave
- Guidelines for protections and accommodations
When is Pregnancy Considered a Disability Under the ADA?
Pregnancy is sometimes considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law does not consider a normal gravidity to be a disability. It is not a result of a physiological disorder.
However, if you experience high-risk complications that substantially limit a major life activity, you may be entitled to reasonable accommodations. The law operates differently during a leave for bed rest than when a woman is actively working.
The ADA does not cover pregnancy disability leave. It applies only while you are actively working. You must look elsewhere for job protection and income replacement if your doctor orders bed rest or you are unable to work at all.
Apply for a maternity leave loan to acquire the funding needed to pay your bills during pregnancy disability leave. The law does not require your employer to continue paying you while not working.
Short-term disability may help replace income during pregnancy leave if you work in one of five states with a mandatory program, or if you purchased a private policy prior to conception. The five states with mandatory programs are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid job protections during pregnancy disability leave. If eligible, your employer must allow you to stay out for twelve weeks, restore you to the same or similar position at equivalent pay, and maintain health insurance benefits for the duration.
Complications prior to childbirth may be eligible as a protected status under ADA, if you continue actively working. For example, a woman who suffers from hypertension while expecting may qualify for protected status. It must be shown that her hypertension limits, or is regarded as limiting a major life activity, which is often defined as a task that most people are able to perform adequately with very little difficulty.
If a pregnancy-related condition makes it difficult to perform one or more of these activities, then the provisions may apply, and the employer must make compliant accommodations.
Pregnancy Job Protections Under the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides certain protections in the workplace for pregnant women. It prohibits discrimination in all employment practices for covered workers. This includes a wide array of job practices ranging from hiring and firing, to compensation and advancement.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act provides additional protections.
Under the ADA, a covered employer must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women meeting eligibility guidelines. A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables the disabled person to perform essential job functions.
What is most interesting to note is that if you are experiencing a normal and healthy pregnancy the law does not protect you – you do not meet the criteria. Only women experiencing complications have these protections. Do not ask for any special treatment from your employer unless you qualify.
The ADA is one of several maternity leave laws in the U.S. that protects job rights for women and families. Each has its own set of eligibility guidelines. All employers that have 15 or more employees must comply. A person is considered disabled under the act if he or she has:
- An impairment that significantly limits one or more activities of daily living
- A written record establishing the limitations
- Or a reasonable person would recognize the impairment – it is obvious