Over the past several months, one particular employment discrimination case has received a great deal of media attention. This case involves a former UPS worker who requested lighter duties during her pregnancy due to her doctor’s advice. Rather than assigning her lighter duties, her employer refused. This situation is particularly frustrating, given that the employer did accommodate others with lighter duties in observance of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This case is currently being heard by the Supreme Court of the United States.
What many Americans may not know is that suits like the one before the Supreme Court are filed on a relatively regular basis. One would assume that in this day and age, pregnancy discrimination suits would be rare. However, a culture of discrimination against pregnant women continues to permeate the American workforce.
Most recently, a nurse filed a suit that is strikingly similar to the one currently being considered by the Supreme Court. This nurse was told by her physician that she needed to stop lifting patients in her role as a CNA at the nursing home where she was employed. She was told to stop lifting patients for the duration of her pregnancy. Rather than accommodating this relatively straightforward request, her employer allegedly stopped scheduling her for work.
When discriminatory policies within the workplace make it effectively impossible for women to continue working safely during their pregnancies, something has gone terribly wrong. Hopefully the case before the Supreme Court will help to clarify the law in favor of pregnant women who most need its protection.
Source: CBS This Morning, “North Carolina woman Jamie Cole fights pregnancy discrimination,” Jan. 14, 2015