UTAH (ABC4) – An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education determined that Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) discriminated against a pregnant student, which may make some students wonder how they can apply for accommodations. 

SLCC released the following statement addressing the U.S. Department of Education’s investigation which says:

Statement Regarding Resolution of Pregnancy Discrimination Investigation

Salt Lake Community College is dedicated to creating an inclusive, welcoming environment for all students and takes all complaints regarding discrimination seriously.  

We are working with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to address this complaint and taking concrete steps to ensure reasonable accommodations are made moving forward.

These steps include strengthening internal processes related to investigating complaints, improving student access to Title IX information, and evaluating and fulfilling requests for accommodation. We will also ensure all staff and faculty are properly trained on the procedures that must be followed when working with students in need of accommodation due to pregnancy. 

We appreciate the work of the OCR in this matter, and we are committed to strengthening our processes to ensure that students are treated respectfully, with understanding, and when necessary, offered reasonable accommodations to help them succeed.

Title IX prohibits discrimination against students due to their gender, which includes pregnancy.

Schools also must allow pregnant students to continue participating in classes and teachers should honor excused absences as long as their doctor says it is necessary. There are other reasons why a student might be looking into requesting accommodations, such as for a disability.

“It’s defined as any physical or mental impairment that impacts somebody’s ability to go about their daily lives,” said Emily Shuman, Director of Rocky Mountain ADA Center. 

Pregnancy is not usually defined as a disability by the ADA, but it can be under certain conditions.

“It does come up from time to time where pregnancy causes some sort of impairment that would qualify as some sort of disability under the ADA, that can be things like carpal tunnel, diabetes,” said Shuman.

How a student requests accomodations can look different from school to school, but often schools have a dedicated office to address students’ needs. Shuman says schools have a responsibility to consider reasonable accommodations and if they’re unable to meet them, they should find an alternative that the student agrees with.

“Not only do they have to have physically accessible campuses, classrooms and things like that, but they also have a requirement to make modifications to their policies and procedures to allow students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate,” Shuman says.

And if a student feels they were discriminated against because of their disability, they can file a complaint.

“Disability is a natural part of human life and we’re really working hard to normalize disability,” said Shuman.

Some resources for students who may have questions are the ADA and the Utah Disability Law Center.