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Obligations of Private Businesses to Pregnant Individuals in the Public

Molly, an expectant mother, decided to go to an amusement park with her children. The amusement park has metal detectors which are meant to detect items prohibited from the park. Molly, ever conscious of her developing future child, does not want to go through the metal detector because she does not want to risk damaging the development of her future baby. However, the amusement park does not have an alternative method of checking customers for prohibited items, and the park refuses to let Molly into the park without going through the metal detector. Is the amusement park required to accommodate Molly, the expectant mother?

Do private businesses have any more obligations to pregnant individuals in the public than non-pregnant individuals?

In short, no if the pregnant individual is part of the general public, but yes if the pregnant individual is an employee. The Pregnancy Disability Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit discrimination in the work place for pregnant individuals and disabled individuals respectively. The prohibition in the PDA does not prohibit all discrimination or require accommodations like the ADA does, but the PDA merely requires pregnant employees to be treated similarly to non-pregnant employees with temporary health conditions. However, the ADA requires private businesses to make their facilities accessible to the disabled public, but there is no similar requirement for pregnant individuals in the PDA or ADA.

Even though there is no legal requirement for businesses to accommodate pregnant individuals of the public that is no reason not to accommodate such individuals. In Molly's case, the amusement park could have security ready to do hand pat downs as an alternative to the metal detector. For example, there is a choice to opt-out of the security machines in airports and receive a pat-down instead. Businesses with security measures like metal detectors could offer such a choice so that they can accommodate as much of the public as possible and increase their business.

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