SUPREME COURT TACKLES PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION

On December 3rd, 2014, the Supreme Court heard a pregnancy discrimination case that will help define the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The case was brought forward by Peggy Young, who drove a UPS delivery truck for four years before she became pregnant in 2006. After UPS requested a doctor’s note, Young provided one that recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds during her pregnancy. She was promptly informed that the company did not provide alternative lighter duty work for conditions that occurred off the job and that she would need to take unpaid leave for the duration of her pregnancy. Despite Ms. Young’s objections that she could still perform her job, which mostly involved delivery of envelopes and small packages, UPS would not allow her to continue working while she was pregnant. As a result, Ms. Young lost her income and her health insurance benefits for nine months.

Ms. Young sued UPS, claiming that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender and disability under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She argued that since the company had given accommodations to non-pregnant workers who faced temporary disabilities such as hypertension, it should provide accommodations for pregnant workers as well. UPS responded to her suit by stating that it had treated Young like any other employee who could not lift heavy loads due to events that occurred outside of the job. Additionally, the company argued that pregnancy is not a disability as defined in the ADA.

The Supreme Court’s decision, likely to come later this year, will help determine whether pregnant employees have the right to ask for accommodations in the workplace.

Laws Protecting New York City and State Residents

If you have faced pregnancy discrimination in New York City, there is no need to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision to take action. New York State and City laws already protect pregnant workers from discriminatory workplace practices.

The New York State Human Rights Law states that it is illegal for an employer to compel a pregnant worker to take a leave of absence if she can still reasonably perform her duties (N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(g)). The New York City Human Rights Law is even more expansive – providing further protection for pregnant workers, stating that it is “an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation […] to the needs of an employee for her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition” (NYC Human Rights Law § 8-107 (22a)). You may have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination if you are pregnant and your employer forced you to take unpaid leave or refused to provide you with a reasonable accommodation.

Don’t Wait, Act Now

If you have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination, you should consider taking legal action to recover for your lost wages and emotional distress. For the best chance of success, you need a contact a lawyer knowledgeable in federal, state and city pregnancy discrimination laws.

The lawyers at Akin Law Group are experienced professionals who can maximize your chances at success. Call Akin Law Group at (212) 825-1400 as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claims with an attorney today.