Last week, we discussed common questions regarding leaves of absences for pregnant firefighters. But that is just the beginning — there is always more to discuss in terms of pregnancy leave and the fire service. Here are some additional statements for you to consider. Again, the answer to each is “yes,” “no,” or “it depends.”
A female firefighter must inform her superiors as soon as she learns she is pregnant. It depends.
There is no law requiring someone to disclose any temporary medical or disabling condition, such as a pregnancy, to her employer. Nor is there a specific requirement under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, requiring someone to immediately disclose a pregnancy. However, if at the time the firefighter learns of her pregnancy and that status may have an immediate impact upon her ability to do her job, disclosure should be made. Frankly, the sooner disclosure is made, barring extraordinary circumstances, the sooner there can be collaboration (see below) in designing a course of action, subject to change as needed, to address the needs of the firefighter, the unborn child, the Department and the public.
A pregnant firefighter must be removed from active duty once her superiors learn she is pregnant. No.
NFPA 1582 has been revised to reflect the need for disclosure of information and collaboration among the pregnant firefighter, her treating physician, and her superiors about her heath condition, the job requirements, and the potential hazards to her and her unborn child.
Unmarried parents-to-be have rights under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Yes.
They each have the right, for example, to childrearing leave. The expectant mother has rights to take time off during the pregnancy and in connection with childbirth/recovery. However, the expectant father or significant other cannot take FMLA leave to drive a girlfriend on bed rest to a doctor’s appointment, as she is not his “spouse” as defined by federal law.
New parents who work for the same department each have the right to 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA relating to the birth and/or raising of their newly born or adopted child. No.
Assuming both are eligible to take FMLA leave, they are entitled to only a combined leave of 12 weeks between the 2 of them. This is true even if the spouses are not working at the same location.
Pregnancy is not a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Yes.
This is correct; however, some impairments resulting from pregnancy may qualify as a disability under the ADA.
Given the preceding answer, we need not accommodate pregnant firefighters. No.
At a minimum, pregnant firefighters must be offered the same types of accommodations to the extent they are offered to employees with other non-service, temporary, disabling conditions.
Infertility is not a condition covered by the ADA, and, therefore, we need not accommodate someone’s request to take time off for fertility treatments. No.
Under the amended version of the ADA, impairments impacting the reproductive system may be substantially limited conditions, which would mean infertility is covered. Even before the ADA was amended, courts in some parts of the country found that infertility was covered by the ADA.
In our next blog post, we will take a look at the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the town of Davie, Fla., alleging pregnancy discrimination, and examine the lessons from that case.