Can Pregnancy Complications Constitute A Disability Under the ADA?

On December 2, 2020, the Maryland Federal Court handed down a decision, Kande v. Dimensions Health Corporation, holding that the plaintiff’s pregnancy-related complications rose to the level of a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), entitling the employee to reasonable accommodation.

“[A]lthough pregnancy itself is not an impairment within the meaning of the ADA, and thus is never on its own a disability, some pregnant workers may have impairments related to their pregnancies that qualify as disabilities under the ADA,” the court said, quoting the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Pregnancy complications qualify for protection under the ADA, the court explained, if they constitute impairments that substantially limit major life activities. The Kande court first analyzed whether the plaintiff’s complications were normal or abnormal in the context of pregnancy, noting that “only abnormal complications may qualify as impairments under the ADA.” The Court concluded that the plaintiff’s complications were not those experienced in a normal pregnancy, and therefore constituted an impairment, because the plaintiff suffered from a number of conditions increasing her risk of suffering an abruption (where the placenta detaches from the cervix, leading potentially to termination of the pregnancy).

The court next determined that the plaintiff’s impairment substantially limited her in major life activities, based on medical evidence that the plaintiff had to decrease her activity markedly in order to minimize the risk that she would suffer an abruption and the loss of her child. Because the plaintiff’s pregnancy-related complications constituted impairments substantially limiting her in major life activities, the plaintiff’s employer was obligated under the ADA to provide her reasonable accommodation.

What is the Americans With Disabilities Act?

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a historic civil rights law that makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in areas such as work, transportation, school, and other public or private places that are open to the public. Passed in 1990, it exists to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

The ADA was updated in 2008 with the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) to make changes to the definition of “disability,” allowing it to be more inclusive.

Are You Being Discriminated Against at Work? Call Us.

If you believe you are facing pregnancy discrimination or disability discrimination in the workplace, you should consult an experienced employee rights attorney such as Benjamin T. King of Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. Attorney King has been ranked in the top 5% of attorneys in New England representing employees in employment discrimination claims, continuously since 2014.

For nearly 25 years, we’ve been New Hampshire’s go-to law firm for employment-related legal matters that range from discrimination to overtime wage hour disputes and sexual harassment. Our attorneys are well-versed in both federal and state laws and are prepared to protect your worker rights so you can move on with your life.

Contact Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. for experienced trial services in New Hampshire online or by phone at (603) 288-1403. Since 1997, we’ve helped clients in a variety of legal matters, including personal injury and employment law-related cases.

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