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Supreme Court to rule on pregnancy discrimination

Individuals in California who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant may be particularly interested in the results of one future Supreme Court ruling. That ruling has to do with pregnancy discrimination and how that discrimination is interpreted. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed by Congress in order to protect pregnant women from job discrimination and to remind employers that doing so was illegal. However, a woman working for UPS was denied a request to only lift boxes weighing under 20 pounds despite having a note from her midwife requesting light duty for the duration of her pregnancy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of UPS and claimed that acceding to the woman's request offered an unfair advantage to pregnant employees. The appellate court also ruled that the actions of UPS did not constitute pregnancy discrimination. However, a number of organizations including medical associations, pro-life groups, state and local lawmakers and members of Congress who passed the act in the first place all argued that the law was intended to protect women in circumstances exactly like this one.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission reports that pregnancy discrimination is on the rise. At present, it is unclear how the Supreme Court will rule even though 11 amicus briefs were filed supporting the woman. However, based on previous court decisions, it is possible that a majority may rule in favor of UPS.

Regardless of the how the Supreme Court rules in this particular case, pregnant women who feel they have faced workplace discrimination as a result of pregnancy may wish to consult an attorney. The attorney may be able to advise on the next steps such as documenting the discrimination and speaking with someone in human resources.

Source: Think Progress, "What To Expect When The Supreme Court Returns To Work Next Week", Ian Millhiser and Nicole Flatow, September 23, 2014

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