The University of Alaska is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive campus environment for our students, employees, and the public. Under Title IX, the university must excuse a student’s medically necessary absences because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions (i.e., miscarriage, false pregnancy, c-section, etc.) for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences medically necessary. When a student returns to school, the student must be allowed to return to the same academic and extracurricular status as before their medical leave began. Any special services provided to students who have temporary medical conditions must also be provided to a pregnant student. A school may require a pregnant student or student who has given birth to submit medical certification for school participation.
UA procedures and guidelines: Nursing parents on campus
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681 ETA seq., is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including pregnancy and parental status, in educational programs and activities.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for their nursing child for one year after the child's birth. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
UA supports the rights of parents in our educational and work environment and therefore provides flexibility to allow nursing parents to express breast milk.
If you are a nursing parent and wish to request a flexible schedule to express milk during your school or working hours, talk with your professor or supervisor. Supervisors must provide reasonable break time for an employee to express milk for their nursing child for one year after the child's birth. You may request paid or unpaid leave or your meal times for that purpose.
Generally 15-20 minutes three times a day is sufficient, depending on where the lactation room or caregiver is located. Make sure you take under consideration the travel between your work space and the lactation room or caregiver.
If a lactation room is not convenient to your workplace, you may work with your supervisor or UA Human Resources or Department of Equity and Compliance to identify a clean, private, comfortable space that can meet your needs. Other items to discuss and consider include an electrical outlet, a comfortable chair, a table for the breast pump, access to a sink with running water and paper towels, and anti-microbial wipes. Since the breast milk has to be refrigerated during the day, if no refrigerator is available, the parent should carry cold packs for personal storage of expressed milk.
If you leave campus to breast-feed during the workday, or if a caregiver brings the baby to campus to be breast-fed and you need a parking space close to your workplace, you may request a temporary adjustment for your UAF parking permit. Please contact the Department of Equity and Compliance for more information.
Faculty, supervisors and co-workers are reminded to respect and be sensitive to students' and employees' choice to nurse or choices a parent makes based on what they consider best for their child.
Faculty is encouraged to work within the UA procedures and to make the necessary adjustments for the nursing parent who wishes to express milk. Supervisors must provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for their nursing child for one year after the child's birth. Employees can be granted paid leave, unpaid breaks or flexibility in their meal time for this purpose.
Generally 15-20 minutes three times a day is sufficient, depending on where the lactation room or caregiver is located. Additional time should be allowed for travel to and from the lactation room or the baby's caregiver. Extra flexibility on schedule is recommended during the initial weeks following their return to classes or work.
Employers must provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. In the absence of a convenient lactation room, supervisors must identify an appropriate space. The room must provide a clean, private, comfortable space with an electrical outlet. Privacy can be ensured by installing a coded lock or a sign outside the door. Included should be a comfortable chair, a table for the breast pump, easy access to a sink with running water and paper towels, and anti-microbial wipes. If possible, provide a small refrigerator for storage of the expressed milk. If a refrigerator is not available, the nursing parents can carry cold packs for personal storage of the expressed milk.
Reasonable accommodations for students may include:
- Extending deadlines and/or allowing make up of tests or assignments missed for pregnancy-related absences;
- Excusing medically necessary absences (this must be granted, irrespective of classroom attendance requirements set by a faculty member, department, or program);
- Granting leave or providing incomplete grades for classes that will be resumed at a future date;
- Modifications to protect the health and safety of the student and/or pregnancy, such as allowing the student to maintain a safe distance from hazardous substances;
- Modifications to the physical environment, such as accessible seating; or accessible parking.
Reasonable accommodations for employees may include:
- Modifications or adjustments that allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.
- Depending on the circumstances, such accommodations can range from changes in or to work schedules; additional snack, rest, or bathroom breaks; physical modifications to a workstation, or accessible parking.
Reasonable accommodations for guests may include accessible seating and parking, as well as other medically necessary adjustments.
Under Title IX, pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, and related conditions and recovery must be treated the same as any temporary disability for all job‐related purposes, including the provision of accommodations and other services. Additionally, employees may be entitled to accommodation of pregnancy‐related disability under federal and state law. Discouraging employees from seeking or using their legally guaranteed accommodations may be considered discrimination. If you receive a pregnancy- or disability-request for accommodation in your role as a supervisor, or want to make a request yourself, please contact the UA Inclusivity Specialists.
How can I request pregnancy or childbirth related accommodations?
Accommodation requests can be made in person, online, via email or by phone call.
Requests for reasonable accommodations may require additional information from a medical provider documenting the condition, any limitations related to the condition, and the need for the accommodation requested. If you are provided with an accommodation, you may also be required to provide updated medical information at a later date.
Employees can request an accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition by contacting our UA HR Leave and Accommodation team.
Students can request an accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition by contacting:
Employees and guests can request an accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition by contacting:
Questions and Answers for Pregnant Students:
A student that has requested and been granted a reasonable accommodation from their university Disability Support Services office 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 her pregnancy-related conditions. The professor must give the student a reasonable opportunity to earn back the credit missed due to pregnancy.
Students can request a reasonable accommodation from their campus Disability Support Services office. While your professor may have a strict attendance policy, the university is bound by federal civil rights law. Title IX requires the university ensure that all faculty and staff comply with the law and do not discriminate against pregnant and parenting students. Please contact the Equity and Compliance Office if you have questions about your professor’s attendance policy as it relates to your pregnancy accommodations.
Students can request a reasonable accommodation from their campus Disability Support Services office. Once granted, your program must allow you to continue participating in off-campus programs. If your program provides opportunities to “work in the field,” you cannot be excluded based on your pregnancy. Your professor cannot require a doctor’s note for continued participation unless your professor requires one for all students who have a medical condition that requires treatment by a doctor. If they do ask for a note, they cannot second-guess your doctor’s decision.
Not necessarily. Title IX requires professors and administrators treat parenting students in the same manner and under the same policies as any other student. In other words, if your professor has a strict attendance policy, that policy can be applied to medically necessary leave relating to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions being protected, provided it is similarly applied to any other absence. Students can request a reasonable accommodation from their campus Disability Support Services office. If you have a concern regarding your status as a pregnant or parenting student you can also contact the Office of Equity and Compliance.
The University of Alaska prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex. Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against or harassed because of their sex, gender, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition may file a complaint with their university’s Office of Equity and Compliance.
Under federal law, an employer must treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work with respect to light duty. If light duty is provided to other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work (e.g., those injured on the job), an employer may have to provide temporary light duty to an employee due to pregnancy. An employer that provides light duty to other employees cannot justify denying it to a pregnant worker just because it would be more expensive or less convenient to do so. Additionally, light duty may be an appropriate reasonable accommodation for individuals with pregnancy-related disabilities under the ADA.
No. An employer may not force an employee to take leave because she is or has been pregnant, as long as she is able to perform her job duties. If an employee is limited in performing job duties and is entitled to an accommodation under the PDA or ADA (see above), reasonable accommodations may need to be provided to help her perform job duties. Requiring an employee to take leave against her wishes violates the PDA even if the employer believes it is acting in the employee's best interest. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and then recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby's birth; nor may an employer prohibit an employee from returning to work for a certain length of time after childbirth.
Title IX’s protection against discrimination based on sex covers nursing mothers and condition(s) related to sex and pregnancy/parental status, such as lactation. Breastfeeding individuals typically need to express milk 2–3 times during every 8-hours to maintain their milk production and avoid health complications. Employees and students who are breastfeeding require a private, clean space – that’s not a bathroom – to pump. If you do not have a private office or control over when you take their breaks, you may need to request accommodation to take regular pumping breaks in a clean, private space.
For more information contact:
- Dept of Ed Resource on Discrimination Based on Pregnancy and Related Condition - Oct 2022
- Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students (pamphlet from the US Department of Education)
- Pregnant and Parenting Student-Athletes (NCAA)
- Pregnant and Parenting Students (National Women’s Law Center)
- Pregnant on Campus Initiative
- Pregnancy Resources from the American Association of University Professors
- The Pregnant Scholar – Title IX Basics
- National Women's Law Center - Pregnant and Parenting Students' Rights
- U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (June 2013) - Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students