ProPublica has a review of a case that is being heard by the US Supreme Court today in which a woman driver for UPS was forced to take seven months unpaid leave, losing her health benefits in the process, because she requested that she not be asked to lift weights greater than 20 lbs during her pregnancy, as advised by her doctor, even though her job description requires her to be able to lift 70 lbs. However her normal duties rarely required her to do so and a colleague had said that he was willing to step in when necessary.
But UPS said that allowing this would mean that she was being given an unfair advantage over other employees.
UPS, for its part, argues that its actions violated no laws, and that it afforded equal treatment to all its personnel, pregnant or not. Under the Pregnancy Disability Act, employers are required to treat expectant and new mothers the same as employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work” — not to treat them better, the company says.
I just cannot get into the minds of companies and managers who think this way. Showing a little flexibility and consideration for the needs of pregnant employees seems to me to be a no-brainer because you get happier and more loyal employees, and yet it seems to be inconceivable to these people.
A recent study by the National Partnership for Women & Families found that many pregnant women are denied even the simplest accommodations, such as extra bathroom breaks; since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act became law, the percentage of expectant and new mothers who report being fired or laid off from their jobs has actually grown, notes a new report by the San Francisco–based public interest lawfirm Equal Rights Advocates.
Yes, we know how all those lazy women will go out and get pregnant just so as to claim those cushy little benefits.
I am also not hopeful about the chances of success at the Supreme Court since this court has already shown itself to be hostile to the rights of women.
For all the lip service given to the wonders of motherhood as a high concept, this country can’t seem to make up its mind when it comes to actual mothers. On the one hand they object to women having easy and cheap access to contraception because of the belief that having sex without the possibility of becoming pregnant somehow leads to immorality, and on the other hand seem to think that pregnant women are a nuisance to have around and must be discouraged from becoming so.