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Supreme Court Hears Pregnancy Discrimination Case


The outcome of a case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court today could have an extensive impact on employers and employees in Maryland and across the country. 

The case involves UPS and a former female worker who lost her job as a result of her pregnancy. The woman filed a lawsuit seeking damages and is claiming that she was the victim of pregnancy discrimination. UPS has argued that it never discriminated against the woman because of her pregnancy, but rather enforced a corporate policy that happened to unintentionally affect the woman. The Supreme Court will hear the case and determine if that decision and that policy discriminated against the woman.

This case is particularly complex. There are issues involving the categorization of disabled employees, accommodations requirements, controversial corporate policies, not to mention the treatment of pregnant women and alleged discrimination. 

However, this case can ultimately boil down to the confusion and misinterpretation regarding the status of pregnant employees. Employers may know that they cannot treat women negatively because of a pregnancy; but should they receive favorable treatment for being pregnant if it goes against an established work policy?

In this case, UPS is arguing that it had a company-wide policy in place which did not require it to make any accommodations for workers who suffered a disabling injury off the job. Other workers disabled by outside incidents were not given alternative or temporary duties while they recovered, and the woman's pregnancy was no different, according to the attorney for UPS. It should be noted that UPS has since updated its policies to better meet the needs of pregnant employees.

The woman and her attorney are arguing that such accommodations had, in fact, been made for other employees and that she was singled out and unfairly fired.

It will be very interesting to hear how the Supreme Court rules in this case. Whatever the ruling is, there is no doubt that it will affect other employees in this woman's position and/or companies with similar policies to UPS. We will certainly follow up on this story when developments are available.

Source: NPR.org, "Did UPS Discriminate Against A Pregnant Worker By Letting Her Go?"