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Employers Should Consider Light Duty Options For Pregnant Workers

The goal of a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit is always at least twofold: 1- To protect the expectant mother’s job and right to be free from pregnancy-related discrimination and 2- To protect other female employees from going through the same mess with an employer just because of a pregnancy.

For one woman, her struggle with UPS has ended in pregnancy discrimination protections for not just other employees of UPS, but for all female workers in her state. Peggy Young had the opportunity to watch, in person, as Maryland’s Governor signed new legislation offering expanded protections for pregnant workers in his state.

Peggy Young was forced to take unpaid leave by her employer, UPS, during her pregnancy six years ago. Her doctor had put her on lifting restrictions – she could lift no more than 20 pounds – and UPS decided it could not accommodate her. The leave meant that Young lost her health insurance coverage and was ineligible for unemployment compensation.

UPS denies discriminating against Young because of her pregnancy and notes that she was allowed to come back to work after she gave birth to her child. But, the new law requires Maryland employers to consider light duty accommodations for pregnancy-related disabilities in the future, possibly offering a protection to future expecting mothers that was not available to Young.

The legislative victory however has not meant that Young has been successful in the courts. She is currently awaiting on the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if it will hear her employment discrimination case.

Source: NBC Washington, “The Voice of Maryland’s Pregnant Worker Protection Law” May 17, 2013

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