Court Dismisses ADA Discrimination Claim; Uncomplicated Pregnancy Was Not a “Disability” Under the Statute

In Matthews v. New Light, Inc., Civil Action No. 22-427, 2022 WL 11966542 (W.D.Pa. October 20, 2022), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s discrimination claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act, on the ground that plaintiff’s claimed medical condition, pregnancy, is not a “disability” within the meaning of that statute.

From the decision:

Here, Plaintiff argues that she has adequately alleged a “disability” under subsection (C) of the statute because she was regarded as, or perceived as, having an impairment – pregnancy – by Defendant. (Docket No. 12 at 5). However, in passing the PDA, Congress brought discrimination based on uncomplicated pregnancies under the auspices of Title VII’s gender discrimination protections. See Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 330-31 (1993) (Stevens, J., dissenting) (The PDA “expressed Congress’ view that discrimination based on a woman’s pregnancy is, on its face, discrimination because of her sex.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)). Thus, although complications and impairments caused by pregnancy may constitute a disability under the ADA, pregnancy alone is not a disability within the meaning of the ADA. See Seiple v. Two Farms LLC, No. 20-5650, 2021 WL 601171, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 16, 2021) (citing cases); Brown v. Aria Health, No. 17-1827, 2019 WL 1745653, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 17, 2019) (“A routine pregnancy is not considered a disability within the meaning of the ADA.”); Ahern v. Eresearch Tech., Inc., 183 F. Supp. 3d 663, 668 (E.D. Pa. 2016) (“Pregnancy, alone, does not constitute disability.”); Varone v. Great Wolf Lodge of the Poconos, LLC, No. 15-304, 2016 WL 1393393, *3 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 8, 2016) (noting that “although pregnancy is not an impairment within the meaning of the ADA and is never a disability on its own, some pregnant workers may have impairments related to their pregnancies that qualify as disabilities under the ADA”); Oliver v. Scranton Materials, Inc., No. 3:14-CV-00549, 2015 WL 1003981, at *7 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 5, 2015) (in which the Court could not find that the plaintiff’s pregnancy-related complications did not give rise to an ADA claim as a matter of law, but it dismissed the plaintiff’s claims because she failed to specify the nature of such complications).

Here, Plaintiff avers in the Complaint that she was pregnant, but she does not aver that she had any pregnancy-related complications, medical conditions, or impairments that substantially limited her major life activities. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant regarded her as pregnant (which is not a disability under the ADA), but she does not specifically allege that Defendant regarded her as having pregnancy-related complications (which may constitute a disability under the ADA). Additionally, to the extent Plaintiff argues that the statements of Ms. Goheen and Ms. Andreas show that Defendant perceived her as disabled under the ADA, the Court disagrees. Upon review of such comments, set forth supra, the Court notes that those comments address Plaintiff’s pregnancy or pregnancy generally, and may therefore be relevant to Plaintiff’s claim of gender-based pregnancy discrimination under Title II as averred in Counts I and II, but the comments do not show that Defendant perceived Plaintiff as experiencing pregnancy-related complications that could implicate a disability discrimination claim under the ADA.

The court accordingly found that, because plaintiff has alleged that Defendant perceived her as being disabled because of her pregnancy, adn since pregnancy is not a disability on its own under the ADA, plaintiff has not alleged a disability under the ADA.

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