Safe, healthy pregnancies are crucial to the health of women and their families. Yet when Peggy Young became pregnant and her health care provider recommended that she avoid lifting anything over 20 pounds, her employer (UPS) put her on unpaid leave rather than allow her to work light duty — which left her without health insurance and seven months of wages.
On Dec. 3 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, Young v. UPS, to determine if UPS discriminated against Young for being pregnant. The decision has far-reaching implications: It’s about how employers should provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers. That’s been the law since 1978 when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, but situations like these still happen.
Supporters of pregnant workers’ equality, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, rallied on the front steps of the Supreme Court yesterday during the hearing to call out pregnancy discrimination. The message: It’s unjust to allow employers to deny pregnant women the same kind of accommodations other workers get. Whereas most women work through their pregnancies without changes in their jobs, some have medical needs that require their boss to make reasonable accommodations so they can work safely — just like other workers. For instance, Young asked for the same kind of light duty that her company gives to disabled and injured workers.
But that’s not all. Allowing pregnancy discrimination in workplace policies would have grave impacts to women’s wallets and their health. It’s a barrier to women’s ability to fulfill their potential throughout their lives.
Bottom line: Women shouldn’t have to worry that they could get forced off the job if they become pregnant. And they shouldn’t have to fear losing their paycheck and health care at the very moment that they and their families need it the most.
More on Pregnancy Discrimination
- TIME Magazine: “Everything Working Women Need to Know About Pregnancy Discrimination”
- National Women’s Law Center: Pregnancy, Parenting, and the Workplace