OCR Releases New Resource on Title IX Pregnancy Discrimination

This week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released an updated resource for schools and students entitled “Discrimination Based on Pregnancy and Related Conditions.” This resource reiterates the regulations on pregnancy discrimination and highlights that “related conditions” include false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom. The Department also reminds schools and employers that schools must treat pregnancy and related conditions “the same as any temporary disability.” 

After a consequential term on the United States Supreme Court, the Department acknowledged that institutions may be unsure of their obligations under Title IX given the recent Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In a footnote, the Department writes that “nothing in Title IX requires or prohibits any person or entity from providing or paying for any benefit or service related to an abortion, and nothing in Title IX permits a penalty imposed on any person because the person is seeking… a legal abortion.” 

Finally, the Department addresses leave requirements for students or employees experiencing pregnancy and related conditions. According to the Department, if a school does not have a leave policy in place, a school must provide leave “for as long as the student’s physician deems medically necessary.” After leave, “the student must be reinstated to the status the student held when the leave began.” For employees, if no leave policy exists, the school must treat pregnancy and related conditions as “justification for a leave of absence without pay for a reasonable amount of time.” 

While the proposed Title IX regulations that address pregnancy discrimination are being finalized, we encourage your Title IX team to review your policies and procedures surrounding pregnancy and related conditions. To learn more about pregnancy discrimination, our takeaways from the Title IX NPRM, and our blogs on recent pregnancy discrimination matters, please visit our website at icslawyer.com.