Several years ago, an employee of the United Parcel Service became pregnant. On the advice of her physician, she requested that she be placed on lighter duty for the remainder of her pregnancy so that she could avoid lifting packages weighing more than 20 pounds. Rather than grant this request, UPS insisted that the worker take an unpaid leave of absence from her position. This was a particularly unjust course of action given that UPS had granted a great number of other employees accommodations related to their physical challenges.
While two lower courts rejected the claims filed by the UPS worker, the U.S. Supreme Court recently instructed the lower courts to review her case again. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court not only gave this particular case new life, it also created a new legal test for determining the legitimacy of discrimination claims brought on behalf of pregnant employees.
The Court has determined that much like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not apply to all employers and employees in all circumstances. However, it does protect women from being discriminated against in situations where an employer’s policy accommodates non-pregnant workers similar in their inability or ability to work.
The law regarding pregnancy discrimination remains complex. Therefore, it is generally a good idea for pregnant workers to consult an experienced attorney if they believe that they are being discriminated against. Each case is unique and therefore must be treated as such. Thankfully however, the Supreme Court just made it a bit easier for pregnant workers to have their claims honored under the law.
Source: Breibart, “US Supreme Court Devises Test for Discrimination Claims of Pregnant Workers,” Lana Shadwick, March 29, 2015