Legal Update: The ADA Protects Women With "Abnormal" Pregnancy Complications (Kande v. Dimension Health Corp.)
In a recent opinion from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the court held a female employee with an "abnormal" pregnancy has a right to a reasonable accommodation under the U.S. Americans With Disabilities Act, as amended (ADAAA).
In Kande v. Dimensions Health Corp., the Court held that employees who request to work from home 2-3 days per week to obtain sufficient rest and avoid a miscarriage, due to various documented pregnancy complications, can state an abnormal pregnancy, disability-rights claim under the ADAAA, because it substantially limits the female major-life activity of bringing an unborn child to term. Civ. No. 18-CV-2306 (D. Md. Dec. 2, 2020).
One take-away here is the detailed evidence, with doctor's support, that the employee first presented to her employer, and later, to the Court. As a result, she was granted the right to proceed to trial about whether her accommodation request was denied in violation of U.S. law, or that the denial was legally justified, under the ADAAA.
This blog post will not delve in further, except to note that the Court found that a jury would need to decide whether her partial telecommuting request was reasonable for her job at this workplace. This employee had worked from home in the past.
A second take-away is the difficult life decisions that families face when they cannot afford to take off of work and seek to welcome a child into the world. In one incident that the Court also found compelling, this employee in Kande went into work to avoid using her paid time off, experienced excessive bleeding, and had to be rushed to the emergency room. In the end, she did have the child.
In practicing employee rights laws, the patchwork of various protections, including especially the ADAAA and U.S. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), is insufficient. This social issue might be better handled with guaranteed paid pregnancy leave that could function as a society wide benefit, and which we all pay for as a society. Families first.
While the Kande decision does not chart new territory, it re-affirms that the ADAAA protects female employees who experience abnormal pregnancy complications, and request reasonable workplace accommodations, to protect their own health and the health of their unborn child.
Gregg H. Mosson, Esq.
Mosson Law, LLC
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