Is it discriminatory to refuse to allow pregnant workers to sit?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2023 | Workplace discrimination |

Unlike in the past, it is not uncommon for women to work during most or even all of their pregnancies. In fact, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 56% of pregnant women continue to go to work. This means many employers are going to have pregnant employees at one point or another.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant workers. While discrimination certainly includes using a person’s pregnancy as a reason not to hire her or to deny her a promotion, it might also involve denying reasonable accommodations. Not only is sitting during the workday usually a reasonable accommodation, but it is also vital for the health of pregnant women.

How is standing harmful to pregnant women?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that excessive standing can increase a woman’s odds of miscarrying and having a pre-term delivery. Moreover, because of pregnancy-associated hormones, spending too much time on her feet can cause a pregnant woman to develop excruciating nerve or joint pain.

When is an accommodation reasonable?

Reasonable accommodations are those an employer makes to allow an employee to perform his or her job duties. When deciding whether to permit a pregnant woman to sit, employers should consider a number of factors, including the woman’s job duties and the employer’s processes. Still, with most jobs, sitting during pregnancy certainly seems like a very reasonable accommodation.

Ultimately, if an employer refuses to allow a pregnant woman to sit during some or all of her shifts, the woman might have legal grounds to file a discrimination complaint.