- UPS has agreed to pay $2.25 million to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit alleging that it discriminated against pregnant women. The settlement stems from a lawsuit brought by a UPS driver who alleged that the company's refusal to provide light duty as an accommodation to pregnant workers violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Although that case was settled, the EEOC's investigation uncovered other incidents when pregnant women were not given light duty or provided other accommodations, according to a statement from the EEOC.
- The Commission said that, until 2015, UPS provided accommodations to workers injured on the job, those with driving restrictions and those with disabilities. However, the package delivery service did not provide accommodations to pregnant women.
- The agreement clarifies that accommodations other than light duty might be appropriate, that the employer's obligation to accommodate pregnant workers extends to childbirth and related medical conditions and that accommodation for pregnant workers extends to both unionized and non-unionized employees. The agreement provides for payment to UPS workers who were not accommodated for their pregnancy from 2012 to 2014 to compensate them for the difference between short-term disability payments and the amount they would have received if they had been allowed to work.
Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, is a prohibited form of sex discrimination, according to the EEOC. While the PDA doesn't require accommodations, it does require that employers treat women affected by pregnancy or related medical conditions the same as non-pregnant applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
Experts have said this means pregnant workers must be provided with the same access to light duty that other employees receive; pregnant women cannot be excluded from light duty or denied it at a higher rate than other employees.
Pregnancy bias is a top enforcement priority for the EEOC. Pregnant Walmart workers alleged in an EEOC lawsuit that they were not allowed to participate in the retailer's light duty program. Additionally, PruittHealth-Raleigh LLC agreed to a $25,000 settlement to resolve EEOC legal proceedings alleging that the company denied a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee with a lifting restriction and then forced her to resign because of the restriction.
Employers, especially those with multi-state operations, should be aware that many state and local laws provide protections for pregnant women that are stronger than those provided under federal law. New requirements continue to be added. For example, although Kentucky already had a law banning pregnancy discrimination, Kentucky employers are now required to go one step further and accommodate mothers-to-be.
Oregon's pregnancy accommodation law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The law requires Oregon employers with six or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants who have limitations related to pregnancy unless doing so imposes an undue hardship on the employer.