A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision may affect female employees in California who are expecting a baby and who wish to continue working through their pregnancy. On March 25, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would remand to a lower court a workplace discrimination lawsuit that was filed by a former United Parcel Service worker. The worker, now 43, sued her employer after she claimed that it failed to provide her with light-duty work while she was pregnant.
In a 6 to 3 decision, the Court ruled that the former UPS worker should have another opportunity to demonstrate that her employer discriminated against her by not giving her an accommodation as a result of her pregnancy. According to the plaintiff, her requests for light-duty work during her pregnancy were turned down, and she was forced to go on unpaid leave without medical benefits.
The woman claimed that UPS violated the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act by failing to take into account her pregnancy. However, lower courts ruled in favor of UPS, claiming that the policy of UPS to provide light-duty work only to those employees who were injured on the job, lost their commercial driver’s licenses or had a disability that was covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act was not discrimination. Some time after her case was filed, however, UPS changed its policies and now provides light-duty work for pregnant employees.
Employers may be breaking the law if they do not accommodate the needs of their pregnant employees. It is also unlawful for employers to discriminate against pregnant employees when they make decisions about hiring, layoffs and promotions. Those who believe that they were discriminated against because of their pregnancy might want to talk to a lawyer about filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit.
Source: The Washington Post, “Justices revive case claiming UPS discriminated against pregnant worker,” Robert Barnes and Brigid Schulte, March 25, 2015