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Pregnancy discrimination case heads to Supreme Court today

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan.com,...

The Supreme Court will look at whether it's legal to discriminate against pregnant workers

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Peggy Young, the Maryland woman who lost her UPS delivery driver job because of her pregnancy. While Young was able to accomplish most of her job while pregnant, her medical provider instructed her to avoid lifting anything over 20 pounds. Unwilling to accommodate her, UPS told Young that she could either leave her job altogether or take an unpaid leave of absence, which would cause her to lose her much-needed insurance. Young felt discriminated against because of her pregnancy, and decided to do something about it.

Backed into a corner, Young sued UPS, claiming that the company was violating the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which says that employers are prohibited from discriminating against a pregnant woman the same way as other employees who aren't pregnant who have a similar "ability or inability to work."

Young noted specifically that her company has previously accommodated employees who needed lighter workloads due to temporary disability or work injuries, yet failed to work with her due to her pregnancy. After two lower courts ruled against her, Young appealed, and her case has now made its way to the Supreme Court. Since Young sued UPS, they have changed their policy to accommodate workers like Young, but the company is still defending itself in front of the Supreme Court, stating that employers should not be legally obligated to provide special treatment for pregnant workers.

This case has the ability to be a game changer because despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, women across the country have found themselves in similar situations when it comes to losing a job due to pregnancy. While this case is about the correct interpretation of a law, the Supreme Court is in a position to make this a win, not only for Young, but for women's rights and for family's rights.

Pregnancy doesn't always prevent someone from doing her job, but for some, minor accommodations need to be made. If businesses are able to provide accommodations for other employees, then they should also be able to do so for pregnant employees, knowing that there is an end date to the necessary accommodations. The outcome from this case will impact many women, and will ideally no longer force some of them to choose between a healthy, safe pregnancy and their job or health benefits.

Many people have come together to support Peggy Young today, from reproductive justice groups to organizations like MomsRising, which works to change policies for the benefit of women and families.

Will you join them and declare that you too #StandWithPeggy and the many other women unfairly treated for attempting to keep their jobs while pregnant?

More on pregnancy

The Mamafesto: The criminalization of pregnancy and motherhood
Pregnancy: Coping with unsolicited opinions
I'm pregnant, I can do what I want

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