The Supreme Court's New Decision Is a Big Win for Pregnant Workers
If you've been following the case of Peggy Young, you've been waiting for the huge Supreme Court decision that came down yesterday.
In short, here's what happened: The court heard Young's pregnancy discrimination case involving her fight with the United Parcel Service over the way it treated her when she was employed and expecting her daughter. At that time, she provided a doctor's note that requested modifications be made to her role so that she wouldn't be required to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds. But she wasn't reassigned; she was told to take unpaid leave instead. In other words, she effectively lost her job.
Thus, she felt she was not treated in the same way that her employer was required to—and did—treat other temporarily disabled workers. And so the question was whether the action was a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that forbids that distinction.
Now, we know what the Supreme Court has to say on the matter: In a a 6-3 decision, the court gave the win to Young and expecting workers in the workforce. They handed it back to the Fourth Circuit.
In a statement about the ruling, National Women's Law Center co-president Marcia D. Greenberger said, "The Court has put employers on notice: pregnancy is not a reason to discriminate. The Court said that if you accommodate most non-pregnant workers who need it but not most pregnant workers who need it, you may be found guilty of violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act."
So what does this mean for working moms-to-be all around the country? We asked Tom Spiggle, author of the book You're Pregnant? You're Fired: Protecting Mothers, Fathers, and Other Caregivers in the Workplace, and founder of the Spiggle Law Firm based Arlington, Virginia that focuses on workplace law. His take: It's an enormous win.
"This means quite a lot for pregnant workers," Spiggle said. "Even though the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit, the law is now established."
According to the law, he said, "An employer with 15 or more employees cannot categorically deny a pregnant worker reasonable changes in the workplace to allow her to continue working. The Fourth Circuit's job now is to decide an evidentiary issue that applies only to this case. Regardless of what happens to the Young case now, the broader law established by SCOTUS applies nationwide to all pregnant employees and workplaces of 15 or more workers."
And that's a reason to celebrate!
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