October 16, 2018

October 16, 2018

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October 15, 2018

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Pregnancy-Related Restroom Breaks May Be Protected Under ADA, and Not Title VII

Claiming that frequent restroom breaks were required by a pregnancy-related medical condition, a former employee’s claims were allowed to proceed under the Americans with Disability Act, but not Title VII.  In Wadley v. Kiddie Academy International, Inc., plaintiff alleged that the employer discriminated against her because of a pregnancy-related disability by discharging her for leaving a classroom “out of ratio” when she left to use the restroom.  Upon learning of her pregnancy, the worker advised the employer of her previous miscarriage due to frequent urinary tract infections and provided a doctor’s note stating she frequently would need to use the restroom.   During one work day, she was the only individual assigned to a room.  She asked for help so she could use the restroom.  Eventually, a co-worker came to offer coverage so  plaintiff could leave to use the restroom.  Despite that coverage “accommodation”, she was discharged for leaving the classroom “out of ratio” when she left to use the restroom.

Plaintiff filed suit under the ADA and Title VII, but her lawsuit was dismissed under Title VII since there was no showing that men were treated more favorably than this female plaintiff. However, under the ADA a contrary ruling was rendered even though the ADA generally provides that pregnancy is not a disability.  While the condition is not a covered one, related medical conditions may be subject to ADA protection said the trial court. Under many states’ and cities’ fair employment practices laws, a similar denial can be expected.  As such, employers should engage in the interactive process, and seek to provide reasonable accommodation, unless the requested accommodation clearly creates an undue hardship.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2018

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About this Author

Timothy J. Domanick, Jackson Lewis, career counseling management attorney, human resources lawyer
Associate

Timothy Domanick is an Associate in the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on employment litigation.

Mr. Domanick has spent the duration of his career counseling management and human resources professionals on many employment law issues. Throughout his career, he has been involved in numerous proceedings before federal and state courts and various administrative agencies.

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