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The Wagner Law Group Description 

The Wagner Law Group, A Professional Corporation, is a nationally recognized ERISA & employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor & human resources practice. 

 

Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 22 attorneys engaged exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and employment law. Six of our attorneys are AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell as having very high to preeminent legal abilities and ethical standards. The firm is among the largest ERISA boutiques in the country. Our practice is national in scope, with clients in more than 40 states and several foreign countries.

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group

 

  Integrity | Excellence

  

Massachusetts Office 

Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110


Florida Office 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

   

San Francisco Office

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 358-8300

315 Montgomery Street

Suite 904

San Francisco, CA 94104

 

www.wagnerlawgroup.com

 

 

 

 

March 31, 2015

 

 Employment Law Alert

 

 

 

 

Supreme Court Provides Guidance Regarding Pregnant Employees' Requests for Accommodations

 

 

 

 

In Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., the Supreme Court found that a plaintiff can demonstrate a genuine dispute as to whether the employer violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act ("PDA") by showing that the employer accommodated certain injured or disabled employees, but not pregnant women. The Court's decision in Young makes it much more likely that pregnant women who are denied workplace accommodations will prevail in PDA-based law suits brought against employers.    

 

Background. The plaintiff worked as a delivery driver for the defendant employer. When she became pregnant in 2006, her physician restricted her from lifting more than 20 pounds.  The defendant informed the plaintiff that she could not work because the company required that employees in her position lift parcels weighing up to 70 pounds. As a result, the plaintiff was placed on leave without pay and subsequently lost her medical coverage.

 

In response, the plaintiff filed a law suit against the employer under the PDA, claiming that the company had a policy of accommodating other non-pregnant drivers. At the time the employer accommodated (i) drivers who were injured on the job; (ii) drivers who lost their Department of Transportation certification; and (iii) drivers who suffered a disability under the Americans with Disability Act.

 

Law. The PDA clarifies that the prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex contained in Title VII (of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. In addition, the PDA requires that employers treat pregnant women "the same for all employment-related purposes . . as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work."

 

Lower Courts. At trial, the employer argued that its decision to deny the plaintiff's request for the accommodation was non-discriminatory because it followed a company policy that does not take pregnancy into account. The lower courts ruled in favor of the employer, finding that its policy did not discriminate against pregnant employees.    

 

Supreme Court Decision. The Court held that a plaintiff may demonstrate a prima facie of discrimination under the PDA by showing that she was pregnant; she sought an accommodation; the employer denied her request for an accommodation; and the employer accommodated other similarly situated employees who were not pregnant. The burden then shifts to the employer to demonstrate that it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for denying the accommodation request. This ruling is significant because employers must now treat requests for accommodations from pregnant employees the same as other requests for accommodations.    

 

Action Steps for Employers. In the wake of Young, employers will likely experience an increase in requests for accommodations from pregnant employees. Accordingly, employers must prepare to properly respond to such requests. Employers should (i) review company policies regarding accommodations to ensure that the same process is used for pregnant and non-pregnant employees seeking accommodations; and (ii) train supervisors to appropriately manage requests for accommodations. Employers are also advised to work with legal counsel to apply the Court's ruling to their policies and procedures.

 

  

 

 

 

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This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.