Making Pregnancy-Related Accommodations Under Vaccine Policies

As employers start to require workers to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations, employers will need to consider reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers.

As employers start to require workers to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations, employers will need to consider reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers.

According to recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance, if an employee seeks an exemption from a vaccination requirement due to pregnancy, the employer must ensure that the employee is not being discriminated against compared to other employees similar in their ability or inability to work.

Employers should ensure that supervisors, managers and HR representatives know how to handle such requests to avoid treating pregnant workers less favorably than other workers in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pregnancy by itself is not considered a “disability,” which is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. However, many pregnant employees may have a pregnancy-related impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.

Employers should determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be made without creating an undue hardship for the business or a threat to the employee’s safety or the safety of co-workers, customers, and other business partners.

Some reasonable accommodations may include a combination of weekly COVID-19 testing, masking and physical distancing; moving the employee to a private workspace; or possibly transferring the employee to a position that does not require interaction with the public or other employees. If these accommodations are not possible, the employer may consider providing a leave of absence.

If employers are faced with a reasonable accommodation for a pregnant worker, the employer must have a policy in place in order to address this request.