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CMA says breastfeeding mothers must be accommodated when taking exams



November 23, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Women's Health 

The California Medical Association (CMA), along with the American Medical Women’s Association and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), sent a letter to Prometric, one of the largest test development and delivery networks in the country, asking it to ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding test takers have consistent access to reasonable accommodations during their exams.

“It has come to our attention that Prometric does not consistently provide appropriate accommodations to candidates who are pregnant or breastfeeding at the time they are taking exams at Prometric facilities,” said the letter. “These accommodations are medically necessary and denying them can lead to adverse medical consequences for test takers."

Testing accommodations are necessary for many people who are pregnant or breastfeeding because the default conditions for administering their exams generally do not meet their needs. Rules restrict what candidates may bring into the test site, there is no access to a private location in which to express breast milk (other than the public restroom) and the existing breaks may, depending on an individual candidate’s circumstances, be insufficient for dealing with conditions associated with pregnancy, including the necessary expression of breast milk.

 “Denying these accommodations also violates California law, which strictly prohibits business establishments from discriminating on the basis of sex. As defined in the law, discriminating on the basis of 'sex' includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related medical conditions, such as breastfeeding.”

Prometric operates a multinational network of testing centers, with thousands of sites in 160 countries. The company administers countless health care certification and entrance exams, such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Because the company already provides accommodations for candidates with disabilities, CMA believes extending accommodations to candidates who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be a straightforward endeavor. “Accommodations should be made available to pregnant or lactating test takers on the same terms as they are offered to others with medical conditions or disabilities,” the letter said.

Numerous professional organizations and the California legislature have established specific guidelines for ensuring appropriate accommodations for pregnancy and breastfeeding. California has enacted strong legal protections that require reasonable accommodations for people who are pregnant, nursing or experiencing pregnancy-related medical conditions.

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