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Supreme court reaches decision in pregnancy discrimination case

Pregnant workers in New York may be interested in hearing about a new qualifying test used in pregnancy discrimination cases, developed by the Supreme Court in conjunction with a March 2015 decision. For the new tests, lower courts need to look at employers' accommodations of non-pregnant workers unable to work in their regular positions to determine whether workplace discrimination has taken place. The law also require for lower courts to examine whether discrimination appears to be intentional and whether a company has non-discriminatory reasons for treating pregnant employees differently.

In the decision, the Supreme Court did not rule in the employee's favor and rejected the "most-favored-nation" approach generally used in pregnancy discrimination cases. In the case, a pregnant postal worker had asked her company to be moved to a position in which she didn't have to lift more than 20 pounds. Her current position required her to maneuver packages of up to 70 pounds on her own and help others to move packages up to 150 pounds.

Instead of allowing the employee to move to another position temporarily, the company placed her on an unpaid leave. Under the company's collective bargaining agreement, employees could be placed in other positions when they had been in an accident, lost their driver's license or failed to pass a required medical test.

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers must make accommodations for pregnant women similarly to how they would for disabled individuals when any pregnancy-related medical conditions do not allow them to perform the regular functions of their jobs. Pregnant workers who have faced workplace discrimination may be able to sue for compensatory damages of anywhere between $50,000 to $300,000, depending on the size of their companies and the back pay and benefits owed them. An employment law attorney may be able to advise pregnant clients on whether evidence supports discrimination in company practices.

Source: BreitBart, "U.S. Supreme Court Devises Test for Discrimination Cases of Pregnant Workers," Lana Shadwick, March 29, 2015

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