The last thing a pregnant worker wants to worry about is job security. The reality, however, is that pregnant women in the workplace are often confronted with employment practices that force them to choose between their job and their pregnancy.
The United States Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case called Young v. United Parcel Service. The Court will decide whether the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to provide pregnant workers the same accommodation that they provide to non-pregnant workers. The impact of this case will be significant as it is typical for pregnant women who request accommodations to be forced to take unpaid leave. This issue often arises in jobs that require a physical component, such as nurses and other medical professionals.
The case before the U.S. Supreme Court involves a UPS driver named Peggy Young. Young’s doctor placed her on a 20-pound lifting restriction that was intended to last the duration of her pregnancy. Young asked UPS to let her work light-duty assignments so that she would not have to lift heavy packages. UPS routinely offered light-duty accommodations to employees who were injured on the job and to disabled workers. Surprisingly, UPS denied her request and instead forced Young to take unpaid leave. As a result, Young lost her income and health benefits during a critical time – just as she was expecting a new baby.
Our firm is dedicated to advocating for employees in all aspects of the employment relationship. We have represented many pregnant workers who have faced workplace discrimination and other challenges in the workplace. We are hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will conclude that employers must accommodate pregnant workers in the same way they accommodate non-pregnant workers.
No matter the outcome of the case, however, it is important to know that there are robust protections for pregnant workers in both state and federal laws. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires pregnant workers to be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities and limitations. Minnesota state law similarly prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, and also has expanded its protections for pregnant workers by guaranteeing basic accommodations and minimum parenting leave.
If you are a pregnant worker who is experiencing problems in the workplace, or if you would like additional information about your rights as a pregnant worker, please do not hesitate to contact our office.