Pregnant and Parenting Students

Arcadia University policies and Title IX prohibit any form of sex discrimination, including discrimination against pregnant and parenting students. Protection extends to students who are pregnant or who have either had a termination of pregnancy (including, for example, miscarriage, abortion, etc.), have gone through childbirth, or are recovering from any of those conditions. Title IX also prohibits a school from applying any rule related to a student’s parental, family or marital status that treats students differently based on their sex.

Title IX requires that Arcadia provide reasonable adjustments to students who need them due to pregnancy and childbirth. We encourage all students and faculty to work together in an interactive dialogue to assess each student’s needs due to pregnancy and childbirth. If you are a pregnant or parenting student looking for resources, accommodations, support, or would like to make a report of discrimination, please contact OECR.

Examples of Reasonable Adjustments





Adjustment Type

Examples of Who May Benefit

What it Provides

How to Enact It

Excused Absences

Those with morning sickness, complications, delivery, postpartum depression, etc.

Protects students from penalization for missing class because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related issues.

Students with this accommodation should communicate as soon as they know they will be absent and contact OECR if absences are common.

Breaks

Those who have difficulty sitting or standing for long periods. Those who need to pump.

Time to step out of the class, lab, or site to meet one’s needs.

Students will work with instructors to identify how to take a break in the least disruptive way. 

Extended time on assignments

Those who are having difficulties during their pregnancy and those difficulties are impeding their ability to get school work done.

Extra time to complete an assignment.

Students will work with OECR and their Faculty.

Food/Water in class

Those who need to eat or drink in a class where it is otherwise prohibited.

An opportunity to either eat/drink in class or step out to do so.

Students will work with instructors to identify how to utilize this accommodation in the safest and least disruptive way.

Chair/Table

Students who, due to their pregnancy, require a separated chair/desk space to provide adequate space for their abilities.

A movable chair separate from a desk.

Students can make a furniture request by contacting OECR.

Access to missed work, exams, lecture, etc.

Students who miss any of these due to their pregnancy, complications, or delivery.

Access to complete their course.

Students will work with OECR and their Faculty.

Extra time on exams

Students who may have needs or demands from pregnancy that cause disruption for them during exams.

Extra time to accommodate the unexpected demands of pregnancy.

Students will work with OECR and their Faculty.

Student Frequently Asked Questions

Where can a student seek assistance for pregnancy or child birth-related accommodations? 

Pregnant students may contact OECR to request assistance with accommodations. Examples of accommodations include, but are not limited to, rescheduling tests or exams, excusing absences, submitting work after a deadline, providing alternatives to make up missed work, or retaking a semester. OECR may facilitate communications with the student’s professors or assist with other university resources.

Pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions may necessitate absences. Will those absences be excused? 

Yes. Absences due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be excused and cannot be treated or penalized like unexcused absences. Depending on the length of the absence and area of instruction, it may be academically necessary for the student to take a leave of absence. Professors must provide a leave of absence for pregnant students for as long as it is deemed necessary by their medical doctor. Professors may require a doctor’s note for pregnancy –related absences only if a doctor’s note is required to excuse other medically-related absences.

Can a professor prevent a pregnant student from attending class? 

No. Under Title IX, the University cannot exclude someone from class based on their pregnancy. The University can only require a pregnant student to provide a doctor’s certification of fitness to continue in an education program or activity if the same requirement is imposed on all other students with medical conditions requiring a doctor’s care.

What happens when a pregnant student misses assignments, tests, exams etc. due to an excused absence?

After an excused absence due to pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical conditions, professors must allow a reasonable time for the student to make up missed assignments and tests. This is true regardless of the professor’s typical makeup assignment policy. Depending on the nature of the course, making up the exact missed assignment might not be feasible. The makeup work does not have to be exactly the same as the missed work, but needs to be reasonably equivalent.

Can pregnant students be penalized for their absence if grades in a class are based on attendance or participation?

A student may not be penalized for absences known to be due to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. A professor cannot reduce a pregnant student’s grade because of attendance or participation points that the student missed during excused absences due to their pregnancy-related conditions. The professor must give the student a reasonable opportunity to earn back the credit missed due to pregnancy.

Can a pregnant student participate in internships and other off-campus programs? 

Yes. Pregnant students cannot be excluded from University-related off-campus programs, such as internships, off-campus activities, University-sponsored activities, and other extracurricular activities. A professor cannot require a doctor’s note to show fitness to participate unless it is required for all students in the program. 

Does the University have to provide special services to pregnant students? 

The University must provide the same services to pregnant students that it provides to other students with temporary disabilities.

What if a student or professor makes an offensive or inappropriate remark about a student’s pregnancy? 

The University will not tolerate harassment based on sex or gender, including harassment based on pregnancy and related conditions. If a pregnant student experiences harassment based on their pregnancy, they are encouraged to consider reporting this to OECR. If a faculty or staff member witnesses or learns about harassment of a pregnant student, they should immediately notify OECR so that it can take prompt and effective steps to end the pregnancy-related harassment, prevent its recurrence, and eliminate any hostile environment created by the harassment. The same grievance procedures applicable to complaints of sexual misconduct also apply to discrimination based on pregnancy or parental status. Title IX prohibits a school’s retaliation against an individual for filing a complaint or raising concerns about the rights of a pregnant and parenting student.

Does the University have designated areas for breast/chest-feeding, pumping, or to address other needs related to breast/chest-feeding throughout the day? 

Arcadia University provides a lactation space to support breast/chest-feeding individuals returning to work, school, or visiting campus in room #109 of the Dining Hall Building. Enter the Dining Hall Building from the entrance by the Wishing Well, and head toward the elevators to room #109. The room offers a clean, secure, and private space to express milk or nurse while on campus. Individuals should bring any personal supplies needed with them.  The space is available on a first come, first serve basis. 

As a faculty member, how can I best support a pregnant student?

When a pregnancy is disclosed to you, start by asking the student what they would require to be successful during the semester. Creating an open line of communication is the best way to support your pregnant students. Encourage the student to contact OECR.

My student did not inform me of their pregnancy and now they are requesting accommodations. Am I still required to provide accommodations without prior notice?

You may provide accommodations without notice from OECR.  However, students should be encouraged to contact OECR so that accommodations are consistent across classes.  

How do I report harassment or discrimination due to pregnancy?

Contact OECR to make a report of discrimination at oecr@arcadia.edu, nellen@arcadia.edu, or 215-517-2659.

Pregnant and Parenting Employees

There are two federal laws that may require an employer to accommodate a pregnant employee: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If someone is temporarily unable to perform their job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat them the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. 

The PDA forbids employment discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.  The law requires employers to treat a pregnant employee who is temporarily unable to perform, or is limited in performing the functions of her job because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition in the same manner as it treats other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.  Under the PDA, a covered employer is responsible for making job-related modifications (or accommodations) for pregnant workers when the employer does so for other employees who are similarly limited in their ability to perform job functions.  A change in duties can include for example, light duty, alternative assignments, additional breaks or unpaid leave.  For example, an employer with a policy of accommodating most non-pregnant employees with lifting limitations would be required to also accommodate pregnant employees with lifting limitations.

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities so long as doing so does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.  Although pregnancy alone is not a disability under the ADA, many pregnancy-related conditions are disabilities that an employer may have to accommodate under the ADA.  An employee with a pregnancy-related disability under the ADA may also qualify for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) provides workers with state-level protection against pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.  This statute is similar to the federal PDA.

Employees who need assistance with seeking accommodations or in filing a complaint should contact Nora Nelle at nellen@arcadia.edu or call 610-436-2433.