The evening before the United States Supreme Court is set to hear a pregnancy discrimination case against the United Parcel Service, the company reached settlement in a similar charge of discrimination brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The resolution comes after the announcement that UPS is changing its policy regarding the accommodation of pregnant employees effective as of Jan. 1, 2015.
“I am satisfied with the resolution and pleased that the new policy will take effect soon,” said Julie Desantis-Mayer. “Workers should not have to choose between their jobs and a healthy pregnancy.”
Desantis-Mayer alleged that she was forced onto unpaid leave and lost her health insurance in 2012, just before the birth of her baby. The charge was filed in January 2013 asserting that The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to treat pregnant workers the same as others who are similar in their ability to work.
“UPS’s policy change moving forward is a welcome step that will allow women to remain productive members of the workforce without compromising a healthy pregnancy,” said Ariela Midgal, senior staff attorney in the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.
Desantis-Mayer routinely lifted packages up to 70 pounds without assistance, working up to 14 hours per day as the only female driver at the Farmingville UPS facility in Long Island. When she was eight weeks pregnant, her doctor recommended that she lift no more than 25 pounds. Though she had previously been accommodated when she pulled a muscle on the job, Desantis-Mayer charged that UPS said pregnancy was different and forced her to take unpaid leave.
“UPS’s change in policy will help create an equal playing field for pregnant women,” said Mariko Hirose, NYCLU staff attorney. “All New York women should have access to the same basic protections. It’s time for the state legislature to do the right thing and make this a reality for all workers.”
The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Young v. UPS Supreme Court case on behalf of women’s rights groups supporting Peggy Young, a worker similarly pushed off the job at UPS while pregnant. Arguments in that case will be heard on Wednesday.