Infertility is Ground for a Disability Claim Under the ADA

Employers have had a history of causing trouble for themselves regarding pregnancy discrimination. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that individuals who are undergoing infertility treatments may be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as ADA.babyhands

Our employment lawyers in Orange County are aware that infertility treatments can be a source of discrimination for various employers.

In a particular case taken on by the EEOC, a resort retailer in Hawaii was forced to pay $60,000 due to discrimination against a worker who had fertility treatments and eventually became pregnant. The EEOC purported that evidence in the case revealed that an official at the retailer initially made comments that were offensive when the employee reported that she required fertility treatments.

The trouble only increased for the employee after she had disclosed, later that year, that she had in fact become pregnant. The EEOC reported that after she revealed her pregnancy, the employee was disciplined and eventually terminated.

Federal statutes unquestionably protect workers who become pregnant. This case represents an expansion of that protection to include those who are trying to become pregnant. An employee who must undergo fertility treatments must be granted reasonable accommodation after careful consideration of their requests.

The EEOC’s assertion that infertility is a disability covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act is not necessarily a new one. In fact, over 12 years a go in the decision LaPorta v. Wal-Mark Stores, Inc. a federal court in Michigan found that because infertility places a substantial limit on reproduction, which is a major life activity, it should be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The definition for disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act was expanded, meaning that there should be no doubt about whether infertility is covered.

If an employer fails to allow an employee to take time off or make other accommodations for a worker’s infertility treatments, there could be an enormous increase in these types of claims.

The EEOC notes it is concerned with various aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act and infertility related issues as a part of its set of six major priorities for the coming years.

Employees should be aware that they have the right to take time off from work and seek other reasonable accommodations when undergoing fertility treatments. Employers are not permitted to deny time off, even when fertility treatments are time-consuming. In-vitro fertilization is a good example.

If an employer denies a worker the opportunity to engage in this very basic life pursuit, it could well find itself a defendant of an employment discrimination lawsuit.

Los Angeles employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Laporta v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, 163 F.Supp.2d 758 (2001). United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

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