Disabled workers are entitled to receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace. “Reasonable” is defined as any accommodation that does not negatively impact the company’s ability to be productive or put other employees in danger that is not prohibitively expensive for the employer. Pregnant workers are also entitled to these accommodations, such as a chair for an employee who normally spends her shifts standing or time off to attend doctor appointments. Failure to provide these accommodations is pregnancy discrimination.
The Legal Context of Pregnancy Accommodations in the Work Place
In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that in order to file a disparate treatment claim against an employer, a pregnant employee must demonstrate that her employer refused to provide her with accommodations that had previously been afforded to employees with similar restrictions in Young v. United Parcel Service. An employee of United Parcel Service informed the company that she could not lift parcels weighing up to 70 pounds, a requirement for delivery drivers, due to her doctor’s restrictions for her pregnancy. She applied for the company’s light-duty program and was rejected because she did not meet its requirements at the time, which stated that employees only qualified if they suffered from work-related injuries, permanent disabilities, or had lost their Department of Transportation Certifications. She then spent a prolonged period of unpaid time out of work, during which she lost her employee medical coverage. She filed a claim stating that she was a victim of pregnancy discrimination due to UPS’ refusal to accommodate her pregnancy-related restrictions.
What Does this Mean for Me?
The ruling means that if you feel you have been unfairly denied an accommodation because of your pregnancy, you must demonstrate that another employee with a similar restriction would have been afforded the same reasonable accommodation. This can be because another employee was previously afforded the accommodation or because another employee was later afforded the accommodation that you were denied.
If you need accommodation during your pregnancy, discuss it with your employer. Examples of accommodations often afforded to pregnant employees include:
- Time off to attend doctor appointments;
- Chairs or step stools for employees in standing positions, such as cashiers;
- Flexible scheduling or telecommuting;
- Snack, water, and rest breaks for pregnant employees;
- Altering job duties to be less physically demanding or moving the employee into a less physically demanding workstation; and
- Relaxing the dress code to allow a pregnant employee to wear maternity clothing or comfortable shoes.
Work with an Experienced New York Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer
If you become pregnant while you are employed, you have the right to certain reasonable accommodations from your employer to not only make you more comfortable but to ensure that you have a safe, healthy pregnancy without interfering with the company’s ability to be productive. If you were denied a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy, consider filing a pregnancy discrimination claim with the EEOC. To learn more, contact and call (347)-464-8694 for our team of experienced employment lawyers at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. to schedule your initial consultation with us.