Pregnant and Parenting Students (Title IX)

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs and activities, including academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic and other programs/activities of the University. This prohibition includes discrimination against pregnant and parenting students. At West Chester University, any form of sex discrimination is prohibited.  If a complainant chooses to move forward with a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will facilitate a Title IX investigation.  If you have been harassed or discriminated against because of your pregnancy or related condition, you can submit a report online or contact the Title IX Coordinator at 114 W. Rosedale Avenue, 610.436.2433.

Also, although pregnancy itself is not a disability, pregnant persons may have impairments related to their pregnancies that qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). It is the procedure of West Chester University to provide individualized reasonable accommodations to students who have a pregnancy-related disability, including recovery from childbirth.  To receive these accommodations, students must be in contact with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD). WCU has a right to request documentation of the temporary disability, and it is the student's responsibility to work with their private physician prior to the provision of services.  This is determined on a case-by-case basis and is based on professional medical documentation provided by the student.  

 

Pregnant students & faculty with pregnant students in their course

The most effective way to ensure a successful semester during pregnancy is by having open communication between pregnant students and faculty. Upon request, the Title IX Coordinator can send a letter to faculty at the request of pregnant students. This letter serves as an opening for conversation in which the student and each individual faculty can discuss course obligations and options. The letter also provides a reminder about the protections afforded to pregnant students under Title IX.

FACULTY: If you receive a pregnancy notification, please work with the student to plan a successful way for the student to complete the semester. Please contact the Title IX and ADA coordinator to consult about complicated matters.  

What protections do pregnant students have?

  • Professors may require a doctor's note to excuse absences due to pregnancy if the student does not have a modified attendance accommodation through OSSD. 
  • Students should work with their professors and OSSD to make up course work missed due to pregnancy, child birth, or any related conditions.
  • The benefits and services provided to pregnant students should be no less than those provided to students with temporary medical conditions.

Possible Accommodations

Students who are pregnant, breastfeeding/pumping, or experiencing medical issues due to pregnancy or childbirth may request reasonable accommodations. The non-exhaustive list below provides examples of accommodations that may be afforded to students depending on their unique situation. To ensure accommodations, students must register with OSSD.

Accommodation Type Examples of who may benefit What it provides How to enact it
Excused Absences Those with morning sickness, complications, delivery, post-partum 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 OSSD 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 the Title IX Coordinator, OSSD, 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 moveable chair separate from a desk. Students can make a furniture request using this Form
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 the Title IX Coordinator, OSSD, 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 the Title IX Coordinator, OSSD, and their Faculty.

Student FAQ’s

Do I need to notify West Chester University that I am pregnant or parenting?

No, you do not need to not notify any University official that you are pregnant. However, you are encouraged to communicate with each of your faculty members about your plans and contact OSSD about any accommodations that you may need.

I feel like my faculty member is not accommodating my requests. Who should I contact?

If you have provided the professor with an accommodations letter from OSSD and you are not receiving the accommodations, please call 610.436.2433 or  complete this form and you will be put in contact with the Title IX and ADA Coordinator.

I had a pregnancy related complication. Can I request accommodations?

In certain situations, a pregnancy-related complication may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), entitling the student to a reasonable accommodation. Please contact OSSD for medical related accommodations resulting from pregnancy.

I am a student athlete and I am pregnant or parenting. Do I need to quit the team?

No, you do not need to quit the team. Pregnant student-athletes can continue to participate in a limited manner on the team, including all team-related activities, unless the student-athlete’s physician or other medical caregiver certifies that partial participation is not medically safe. Know your rights as a student-athlete .

 Faculty FAQ’s

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 OSSD.

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 OSSD.  However, students should be encouraged to contact OSSD so that accommodations are consistent across classes.  

Employees (Faculty and Staff)

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 a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her 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 protectiont 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 Lynn Klingensmith at 114 W. Rosedale Avenue or call 610.436.2433. 

How do I report harassment or discrimination due to pregnancy?

Complete this form or call 610.436.2433 and you will be put in contact with the Title IX and ADA Coordinator.

Resources

WCU Lactation Spaces’ Website

West Chester University provides lactation spaces to support breastfeeding mothers returning to work, school, or visiting campus. Each room offers a clean, secure, and private space for women who need to express breast milk or nurse while on campus. Individuals should bring any personal supplies needed with them.  Lactation spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis.  With the exception of Student Health Services, rooms are not available to be scheduled ahead of time.  The University provides a listing of laction spaces across the campus by building.

Furniture Requests

West Chester University provides accessible furniture for faculty, staff, and students who may need accommodations. Requests should be made by using this FORM

Transportation and Parking services

West Chester provides an Accessible Shuttle Bus for transportation around campus for people with mobility impairments.  Students seeking this accommodation may utilize this bus whether their mobility issues are permanent or temporary by registering with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD).   

Those having issues with walking due to their pregnancy may request a temporary handicapped parking permit from parking services with appropriate medical documentation.

Fact Sheet “Pregnant and parenting Students’ rights: FAQs for College and Graduate Students” from the National Women’s Law Center

“Know your rights: Pregnant or Parenting? Title IX Protects You from Discrimination At School” from U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights

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