Pregnant or lactating students or employees may be entitled to support, protections, and/or accommodations under Title IX and other federal and state laws.
The following frequently asked questions provide general guidelines and information related to possible support and accommodations but are not intended to address or provide all relevant resources at UW. Additional resources and information sources are noted in the FAQs below.
Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex; this includes prohibiting discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions, including childbirth, loss or termination of pregnancy, lactation, and the recovery from any of these. Title IX also prohibits discrimination based on martial or parental status.
Title IX’s goal is to ensure persons who are pregnant or experiencing pregnancy-related conditions are not denied or limited in their access to an educational program or activity. Thus, Title IX aims to help pregnant students remain in school, help pregnant employees remain at work, and/or ensure someone who recently gave birth can return to school or work. Title IX does not include protections for bonding with a child or for childcare.
If you are pregnant, experienced the end of a pregnancy, gave birth, are lactating, and/or experienced other pregnancy-related conditions, you may be entitled to modifications, adjustments, support, and/or accommodations related to attending class, participating in educational or academic activities, or performing your job responsibilities.
Other than providing for time away from class or work for the purposes of lactation, Title IX does not provide specific protections to parents who are not recovering from pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related condition.
Students should work directly with their instructors to determine modifications and support related to their pregnancy, including requests for absences related to their pregnancy or breaks for lactation. Students should contact the disability resources office on their campus for assistance with parking, furniture, classroom relocation, lab support if working with chemicals, disability-related absences, and other possible complications related to pregnancy.
Pregnant employees may wish to review UW’s HR Pregnancy accommodation website. Absences related to pregnancy may be requested in Workday. Employees should contact UW’s Disability Services Office with questions or concerns related to pregnancy.
An accommodation refers to a modification or adjustment to your academic or work environment that is based on a medically documented disability and is supported by paperwork provided by a healthcare provider. Support (and modification and adjustment, in these FAQs) refers to a change in an academic or work environment that may be made absent documentation from a healthcare provider.
If you’ve made a request of an instructor or supervisor that has been refused, you may contact the Office of the Title IX Coordinator for further assistance with that request.
If you believe a UW employee has discriminated against you and/or engaged in harassment because of your sex or gender, including because you are pregnant or experiencing a pregnancy-related condition, and you wish to make a complaint, please contact the University Complaint Investigation & Resolution Office (UCIRO). An investigator will meet with you to hear your concerns and determine whether an investigation is appropriate or whether the University has another process to address your concerns.
If you believe a student has discriminated against you and/or engaged in harassment because of your pregnancy or related condition, you may contact the student conduct office on your campus. On the Bothell campus, contact Student Conduct; on the Seattle campus, reach out to Community Standards of Student Conduct; and on the Tacoma campus, contact the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.
If you’re a student who worked with the Disability Resources for Students office on the Bothell, Seattle, and/or Tacoma campuses and were denied a requested accommodation, you may request an accommodation reconsideration by following the steps outlined on the accommodation reconsideration webpage.
If you worked with the Disability Services Office as a student seeking a non-academic accommodation, email DSO with your request for reconsideration, and copy the Office of the Title IX Coordinator email@example.com. If you are an employee and wish to seek an accommodation reconsideration, you may contact the Human Resources Consultant (HRC) who supports your unit.
Types of support and accommodation
As parking is often requested, see the “Parking” section below.
If you have medical complications related to your pregnancy, you may contact Disability Resources for Students on your campus if you’re a student or the Disability Services Office if you’re an employee.
The review and approval of an accommodation request will depend upon your individual circumstances. Some possible accommodations may include, but are not limited to adjustable furniture, classroom or office relocation, lab support if you’re working with chemicals, disability-related absences, disability-parking permit, and Dial-A-Ride (Seattle campus).
If you are pregnant or experiencing a related condition (including lactation) but do not have any specific medical complications, you may directly contact your instructor(s), supervisor(s), or department to request support or adjustments. These adjustments may include additional or longer breaks, the ability to eat/drink where doing so may not otherwise be permitted, or adjustments to project timelines and assignment deadlines. To ask for these adjustments, you do not need to provide personal information to your instructor, supervisor, or department aside from letting them know the request is because you’re pregnant or experiencing a related condition. If reasonable requests are denied, you may contact the Office of the Title IX Coordinator.
If you’re a student and need assistance with furniture, classroom relocation, lab support if you’re working with chemicals, or disability-related absences, contact your campus’s Disability Resources for Students.
If you’re an employee, including a student employee, you may have options for leave related to your employment. Information for full-time employees may be found on the University’s sick leave webpage; information for temporary or student hourly employees may be found on the University’s sick time off webpage.
If you’re a student, work with your department to approve leave following childbirth and for the purpose of postpartum recovery. Any plan before you give birth will likely be tentative, as you will not necessarily know how much leave is medically necessary until childbirth. Once you give birth, you will need to obtain from your provider a letter stating how much leave is medically necessary.
Your department may refer you to the Disability Resources for Students (DRS) office on your campus. If DRS does not approve the amount of time your provider indicates is medically necessary for your postpartum recovery, contact the Office of the Title IX Coordinator.
The amount of leave for postpartum recovery will depend on your specific medical needs. How the leave impacts your trajectory as a student will depend, in part, on your program, its requirements, and when during the academic year your childbirth occurs. Depending on your coursework, any clinical components of your program, and the length of your excused absence, you may need to attend an extra quarter (or extra quarters) of classes to complete the work you missed following childbirth. You may also wish to consider the financial impacts of taking leave. For example, if childbirth/postpartum recovery leave will likely occur such that any incomplete(s) are not possible in your courses, you may wish to take leave for the entire quarter to avoid paying tuition if you’re unable to finish and/or make up the required coursework. Regardless of the timing of your leave, you will be able to return to the same student status as you were at the start of your leave.
If you’re an employee, consult the temporary disability leave for pregnancy and childbirth webpage. Temporary disability leave for pregnancy and childbirth is an approved form of leave and can be requested following your department’s typical leave requests procedures.
Title IX does not apply to any childcare needs students or employees may have. If you’re a student, the childcare assistance programs on the Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campuses provide information about help covering the costs of child care.
Employees and students are eligible for childcare programs coordinated by UW Human Resources. Consult the childcare at UW website for more information.
Lactating students and employees are entitled to regular breaks for purposes of lactation. Healthcare documentation and/or working with a disability services office is not needed to request such breaks, and instructors and supervisors should accommodate a student or employee’s need to express milk.
Yes, the location of lactation stations can be found at the links below.
UW Medical Centers
Obtaining parking permits for specific lots may depend on availability; you also will be required to pay for the necessary parking permits. More detailed answers follow based on your status as either a student or employee and based on the campus where you work or study.
For students on the Seattle campus: You may contact Transportation Services to request a disability parking permit for up to six weeks; there is no need to explain or provide a rationale for this request, though you may need to mention it’s based on a temporary disability. If you need a disability parking permit that extends beyond six weeks, please contact Disability Resources for Students. Parking fees apply and cannot be waived.
For students on the Bothell campus: If you need a temporary parking permit, contact Disability Resources for Students. If you need a temporary permit for more than three weeks, you will need to work with your medical provider to obtain documentation for a state-issued disability parking permit and register with the Office of Planning and Administration.
For students on the Tacoma campus: You may contact Disability Resources for Students to receive help with parking; you will receive a code to purchase permit parking through the UW-T Transportation Services website. Additional information about parking permits is available there.
For all employees, regardless of campus or medical center: All pregnant employees may contact the Disability Services Office to receive further information about parking.
Information for pregnant students
As a student, you have the right:
- To continue participating in classes and extracurricular activities
- To reasonable adjustments (for example, a larger desk, elevator access, more restroom breaks, lactation breaks)
- To be excused for absences related to pregnancy or childbirth as long as your medical provider says it’s medically necessary
- To return to the same academic and extracurricular status as before your medical leave began
- To make up work you missed while you were out, including any participation or attendance points/credits
- To access the same services other students with temporary disabilities may access
- To be free from harassment based on sex, including because of your pregnancy
As part of the process to request and receive accommodations, you will need documentation from your health care provider describing the impact and duration of the health or medical conditions accompanying the pregnancy.
DRS typically requires advanced notice–often four to six weeks–to process academic accommodation requests; if an accommodation is needed more quickly and is related to your pregnancy, you may want to first work with your instructor.
If there are no health or medical complications:
STEP ONE: Work directly with your instructor(s) to discuss what you need and to understand what is possible and where flexibility exists.
STEP TWO: If you experience resistance or a refusal to have modifications made, you may reach out to the Office of the Title IX Coordinator, and we will work with Disability Resources for Students on your campus and/or your instructor(s) to understand where and if flexibility may reasonably exist. We can also reiterate the goal of ensuring all students maintain access to their education and the University’s obligations under specific laws.
We encourage you to work directly with your instructors or your campus’s Disability Resources for Students office early, so a plan is in place for the quarter childbirth will occur. Because putting together an accommodation or plan may take some time, contact your campus’s Disability Resources for Students office as early as possible.
The availability of accommodations depends, in part, on whether your childbirth occurs naturally, via Cesarean section, or involves known complications. The length of time for your recovery will differ based on these.
Information for pregnant employees
Some modifications may be provided without medical documentation. You may directly ask your supervisor to allow short breaks, including for nursing. You may also ask for modifications such as allowing snacking while working if that is not otherwise permitted.
To request support or accommodations during pregnancy, you may contact the University of Washington’s Disability Services Office. The Disability Services Office will assess your needs and refer you, if appropriate, to the additional offices and individuals who can provide assistance based on your specific situation.
For more information, see the University’s pregnancy accommodation webpage.
If your needs include support that may be provided regardless of whether you have medical documentation, you may speak directly with your supervisor. Supports that may be put into place with no medical documentation include more frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks, modifying a no food/drink policy, and providing seating or allowing for more frequent sitting. Following childbirth, you also are entitled to lactation breaks. If what you’ve requested is not something your supervisor may easily implement or if your request is denied, contact the Disability Services Office.
If you have medical documentation in connection with your needs, work directly with the Disability Services Office.
For more information, see the University’s pregnancy accommodation webpage.
For instructors and supervisors
Instructors have the responsibility and authority to make a variety of reasonable adjustments or modifications without requiring a student work with Disability Resources for Students. In general, the types of adjustments or accommodations you can grant include:
- Short breaks during class and final examinations (for pregnant or nursing parents);
- Adjusted timelines for completing work or assignments; and/or
- Other adjustments that are reasonable and will allow a student to continue accessing their education.
Because Title IX requires that pregnancy-related absences be excused, you may need to devise an alternate way of grading students. In some cases, a final may need to stand in for a midterm, or an exam may need to be offered at a later date. If a student is unable to participate in a group project or presentation (whether planned or unplanned) because of their pregnancy, you will need to come up with an alternative assignment or way for the student to make up that work. Missing class due to a pregnancy cannot be held against a student for participation points or requirements. It may be necessary to allow a student to take an incomplete, so they may complete their coursework at a later time.
Do not ask students about their pregnancy or complications. If a student’s specific request does not seem appropriate for your course or the learning environment given other students’ needs, you may consult with the Office of the Title IX Coordinator. We will work together to determine whether there are alternative solutions or identify where flexibility may exist.
Instructors who have been contacted by Disability Resources for Students regarding implementation of accommodation(s) for specific students must do so. If you believe the specified accommodation would significantly change your classroom or course requirements, please contact DRS.
If a student offers you medical documentation, do not accept it. Instead, refer the student to Disability Resources for Students.
If the employee is requesting a reasonable modification such as the need for more frequent or longer restroom breaks, the modification of a food or drink policy, or providing seating, you should support and implement their needs. You should not ask employees about their pregnancy and/or any medical issues or complications.
If an employee makes a request that you do not believe is appropriate or reasonable, don’t decline the request but instead refer the employee to the Disability Services Office for assessment. If you’ve received a request from a pregnant employee additional information may be found through Human Resource’s pregnancy accommodation webpage.
If an employee offers you medical documentation, do not accept it. Instead, refer the employee to the Disability Services Office.