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Supreme Court rules on pregnancy discrimination claim

The U.S. Supreme Court has finally ruled on the UPS pregnancy discrimination case that we have discussed in previous blog posts. As our readers may remember, the case was filed after a pregnant UPS driver was advised by her physician to avoid lifting packages weighing above a certain limit. Rather than reasonably accommodate the physician’s request, UPS insisted that the pregnant woman take unpaid leave. UPS made this decision despite the fact that the company regularly accommodates workers who have other physical conditions which limit their abilities.

Lower courts rejected the UPS worker’s claim, but the U.S. Supreme Court has officially negated those rejections. The Court has sent the worker’s case back to the lower courts for reassessment. Specifically, the Court wants the lower court to evaluate the claim while considering the fact that pregnant women are likely entitled to accommodations if employers have made similar accommodations to a significant number of other workers.

This ruling is a positive step forward for female American workers. Although employers are not necessarily required to grant pregnancy-related accommodations in certain situations, if many other workers have been granted similar accommodations, it seems that pregnant women will now have stronger claims to similar treatment.

Pregnancy discrimination law remains complex. If you have questions about how this ruling or others like it may affect your legal options, please consider speaking with an attorney experienced in matters of employment law. Ideally, it is important to seek the guidance of an attorney licensed in the state where you live as both state and federal law may impact your situation.

Source: USA Today, “Justices say pregnant workers can seek accommodations,” Richard Wolf, March 25, 2015

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