Workplace pregnancy discrimination

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2014 | Workplace Discrimination |

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace has been forbidden in Indiana and throughout the country since the passage of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, or PDA, in 1968. Pregnancy discrimination has received a lot of attention due to its unique circumstances.

In a pregnancy discrimination case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, a woman suing United Parcel Service was put on unpaid leave from her job after her doctor told her she could not lift more than 20 pounds, though she had simply requested light duty. UPS’s attorney argued that the woman was treated just like other workers who are temporarily disabled due to an off-job accident. The issue with this argument is that pregnancy, rather than being akin to a recreational activity accident, involves bringing new life.

Pregnancy discrimination cases have been increasing across the country. Some people blame the PDA itself, as the language of the act draws a comparison between pregnancy and temporary disability status. In the current case, Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia both drew comparisons between pregnancy and accidents like a hypothetical ATV accident, while some argue that pregnancy is its own unique and profound act that should not be compared in this manner.

While many workplaces are sensitive to the needs of expectant mothers, others are not. Nine states have laws that expressly treat pregnancy as a special condition, and other states have similar pending legislation. In states that have passed laws geared toward the protection of pregnant women, requiring accommodations, pregnancy discrimination claims have dropped sharply. As a form of gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination is difficult to prove. There are simply no comparable groups from which to draw a legal comparison regarding the treatment received from the employer. The case at hand demonstrates that the underlying issue with ongoing pregnancy discrimination is how pregnancy and women are viewed by society.

Source: The Huffington Post, “When It Comes To Pregnancy Discrimination, Equal Is Not The Same As Fair”, Nikki Gloudeman, December 04, 2014


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