January 16, 2013 — The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today against UPS for unfairly forcing a pregnant package driver to take unpaid leave, refusing to accommodate her with light-duty work and forcing her to lose her company health insurance just before the birth of her child.
The company has a policy of granting accommodations to other workers who are temporarily unable to perform all aspects of their job. This includes workers who are injured on the job, those covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and those whose driver’s licenses are revoked due to drunk driving infractions.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits workplace discrimination based on pregnancy and requires employers to treat pregnant workers the same as others who are similar in their ability to work.
"I was ready and willing to keep working throughout my pregnancy to provide for my family," said Julie Desantis-Mayer, who has been with UPS for 10 years and works as a full-time package driver. "I would have been treated better had I lost my license. I’m a good worker who just wanted to take care of myself and my child. Instead I lost my income and my health insurance."
Desantis-Mayer routinely lifts packages up to 70 pounds without assistance, working up to 14-hour days. She is the only female driver in her center at the Farmingville UPS facility in Long Island. When she told her supervisor in March 2012 that she was pregnant, she was asked if she expected “special treatment.”
In April, when she was eight weeks pregnant, Desantis-Mayer’s doctor recommended that she lift no more than 25 pounds for the duration of her pregnancy. Desantis-Mayer offered to do light duty at a desk job or delivering air packages, which were lighter than those on her usual route. She had been accommodated like this before when she pulled a muscle on the job. Instead, she was told this was different and was forced to take unpaid leave.
"By denying pregnant workers the same accommodations as other workers who are temporarily unable to deliver packages, UPS leaves women workers who start families out in the cold," said Ariela Migdal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. "Thirty-five years after Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnant workers are still being pushed out of the workplace, despite their willingness and desire to stay on the job."
In his annual State of the State address last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on state legislators to enact a series of initiatives to promote women’s equality and close loopholes in protections for women.
"Employers cannot continue to unfairly single out pregnant women for unequal treatment," NYCLU Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose said. "This complaint illustrates just one of the many difficulties facing women that Governor Cuomo has sought to address in his vigorous legislative agenda for women’s equality."
For more information about this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/womens-rights/ups-and-pregnancy-discrimination