Should women be able to work while pregnant?

Last week, the American Supreme Court heard the case of former UPS driver Peggy Young. Young became pregnant in 2006 and requested responsibilities at work that did not involve heavy lifting. Rather than accommodating her needs , Young’s employers fired her.

From a story by the Associated Press, posted at ABC affiliate WJLA:

With some of their male colleagues unusually quiet, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan repeatedly pressed UPS lawyer Caitlin Halligan over the Atlanta-based package delivery company’s refusal to find a temporary assignment for Young.

The anti-discrimination law “was supposed to be about removing stereotypes of pregnant women as marginal workers. It was supposed to be about ensuring that they wouldn’t be unfairly excluded from the workplace. And what you are saying is that there’s a policy that accommodates some workers but puts all pregnant women on one side of the line,” Kagan said.

Defending the company’s actions, Halligan said UPS did not provide light-duty work to any employees unless they were injured on the job, had a condition that was covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act or lost their federal certificate to drive a commercial vehicle.

Ginsburg challenged Halligan to come up with an example of someone who asked for lighter duty but didn’t get it, other than pregnant women.

“Is there an employee who asked for a dispensation because of a medical condition that restricted her ability to lift, to any single employee?” Ginsburg asked.

Halligan replied, “There’s not a name provided in the record because one was not elicited by (Young) whose burden it was.”

Young’s dispute with UPS arose after she gave her supervisor a doctor’s note recommending that she not lift packages heavier than 20 pounds. Young said she dealt almost exclusively with overnight letters, but UPS said its drivers must be able to lift packages weighing up to 70 pounds. Young left the company in 2009.

UPS has since changed its policy and says it will voluntarily offer pregnant women light duty starting in January.

Read the full story here.

Young’s situation is making unlikely allies out of pro-life organizations and feminist groups that favour abortion. Secular Pro-Life has quotes on their blog from pro-life advocates involved in the case. Whatever your thoughts on the matter may be, we can agree that a society that is able to abolish abortion is a society in which women are not discriminated against because they are carrying another life within them.


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