The Pregnancy Discrimination Act provides that pregnant workers are entitled to the same treatment in the workplace as non-pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”
The Supreme Court heard arguments today on what this means and how it should be applied in the case Young v. UPS. Peggy Young worked for UPS and, on account of her pregnancy, had some lifting restrictions imposed on her by her doctor. UPS refused to accomodate these restrictions and took the position that it was not required to, because the restrictions were caused by or the result of a non-work related medical condition and that its policy was not to accommodate employees' restrictions (except for a few limited exceptions) where they were the result of non-work related medical conditions.
UPS should lose the case. The law simply requires that a pregnant employee have the same opportunity to continue working as any other employee "similar in their ability or inability to work"; the law says nothing about the cause of the ability or inability, so whether the medical condition is work-related or not is irrelevant; what counts is what the pregnant employee can do.
This would mean that not all pregnant employees would have protection, because some would have such significant restrictionst that they could not do any meaningful work for their employer. And keep in mind that the employer must have the capacity to reassign the pregnant employee.
There is coverage at the New York Times and SCOTUSBlog.