Pregnant employees have employment protections based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, among many other state and federal laws. And, while many know about breastfeeding requirements and not being able to take adverse actions, there are a few lesser-known Multnomah County protections.
Can adverse actions be taken based on health and safety concerns?
Probably not. Just because a Gresham County employer believes they are protecting a pregnant person does not mean they can take an adverse action. This means they cannot elect not to hire them based on their pregnancy nor take any other adverse action, like a demotion, negative workplace move, firing, etc. A presumption about a pregnant person’s ability to work can also not be used as a basis for an adverse action.
What if co-workers or customers have fears?
That does not matter. The Beaverton employer cannot utilize the fears of customers or co-workers as a basis for an adverse action. This means that if a customer is uncomfortable with working with a pregnant employee, no adverse action can be taken by the employer as a result. Similarly, if co-workers fear the job is too much for a Lake Oswego pregnant person, the employer still cannot take an adverse action based on those fears.
What about pregnancy-based harassment?
Any offensive and unwelcome jokes, physical contact (touching a pregnant person’s belly without permission) or threats, including insults, intimidation, ridicule, etc. that interfere with work performance and that are based on pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition are likely illegal Portland workplace harassment. Even if it comes from “a good place” or with no malice, it does not matter.
What about light-duty policies that only apply to workplace injuries and disabilities?
These Oregon policies that limit light-duty positions to only those with workplace injuries are likely illegal. This is because any pregnancy-related medical condition or impairment may qualify a pregnant employee for a workplace accommodation.