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Putting a face on pregnancy discrimination suits

It is sometimes difficult to observe a systemic problem with any sort of clarity. We frequently write about the prevalence of discrimination within the American workplace. This problem is so varied and so widespread that it can be easy to speak about it in terms that either hyper-inflate or ultimately minimize the problem at hand.

In order to view the problem of workplace discrimination clearly, it is perhaps most beneficial to put a face to the issue. In the end, every single act of discrimination uniquely affects someone just like you. Man or woman, young or old, every discriminatory act ultimately makes the workplace unsafe for an individual American who has as much right to earn a living in a safe environment as you do.

The Huffington Post recently published a profile on former UPS worker Peggy Young. This woman’s pregnancy discrimination case will soon be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. A powerful and strangely aligned group of organizations has filed briefs on her behalf. This group includes 23 pro-life organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Very basically, UPS refused to grant Young reasonable accommodations during her pregnancy. Instead, she was placed on unpaid leave and told that her condition would not be accommodated because it was one that was “off-the-job.” As a result of UPS’s actions, Young was denied her source of income and access to her health insurance.

It can be too easy to brush aside systemic issues like workplace discrimination, because they seem too overwhelming to address adequately. However, when one views the problem one victim at a time, the issue takes on new, urgent and important meaning.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Meet The Working Mother Taking Her Pregnancy Discrimination Case To The Supreme Court,” Dave Jamieson, Oct. 31, 2014

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