Pregnancy Discrimination, Aisle 12? Maybe Not.

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
08/22/2022
Pregnancy has been in the news a lot this year, mostly due to the Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 597 U.S. ___ (2022), which overturned Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).  The Dobbs decision impacts employers, but I will save that discussion for another day. Today we will revisit the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, and a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit that held Walmart...
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EEOC's Updated COVID-19 Guidance: Employees Not Entitled To Accommodations Because They Live With High-Risk Individuals; Treat Older Workers Equally Despite Risk

In an updated guidance on COVID-19, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, the EEOC has clarified an employer need not accommodate an employee's request to telework who is not high risk but lives with high risk individuals.  The EEOC has also clarified that companies may not mandate exclude older workers and pregnant employees from the workplace even though public health authorities advise they are a higher risk group for severe...
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A Case of Pregnancy and Pretext

How do courts handle cases of alleged pretextual behavior designed to cover up discriminatory actions? A recent Tenth Circuit decision sheds a little light on this issue. Fassbender v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC, No. 17-3054 (10th Cir. May 15, 2018). Alena Fassbender worked for Correct Care Solutions (CCS) as a medication aide at a Kansas detention center.  Fassbender was pushing her medication cart down one of the center’s cell blocks on April...
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Falsified Application and Poor Performance Doom Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

A recent decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals provides a reminder that authorized leave -- such as maternity leave -- does not insulate an employee from termination for poor performance and other inappropriate conduct.  Bailey v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., Case No. 17-2158 (6th Cir. Apr. 23, 2018) (unpublished). Michelle Bailey worked as a senior staffing professional for Oakwood Healthcare, Inc.  Nearly eight months into her tenure...
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What Not to Say to a Pregnant Job Applicant

Channeling Rod Serling here.  “Imagine if you will….”  (for those readers too young to recognize the quote, check out “The Twilight Zone”).  You are responsible for hiring a new employee. During the interview process, an applicant says, “by the way, I am pregnant.”  How do you respond?   I have used this hypothetical in employment law training sessions.  The answer is always the same: “congratulations.”  And leave it at...
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Failure to Accommodate Breastfeeding Police Officer Costs Alabama City

In Young v. UPS, Inc., the Supreme Court concluded that an employee who alleges that the denial of an accommodation amounted to disparate treatment under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) may set forth a prima facie case by showing that she belongs to PDA’s protected class, she sought an accommodation, the employer refused to provide an accommodation, and the employer accommodated others “similar in their ability or inability to work.” ...
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Check Casher Fails to Cash in on Overtime and Discrimination Claims

This past week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a pregnant employee who worked unauthorized overtime and was terminated two months after announcing her pregnancy could not prevail on claims brought under federal employment laws.   Fairchild v. All American Check Cashing, Inc., No. 15-60190 (1/27/16). Because the plaintiff could not show that her employer had knowledge of the overtime work, or that her employer’s...
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Court Rules Morgue Worker Injured While Transporting Cadaver Can Proceed With Pregnancy Discrimination Claim.

Tiana LaSalle is a van driver for the New York City morgue. LaSalle sued her employer alleging a variety of discrimination claims. Her chief complaint, however, appeared to be that the City refused her request for an accommodation with regard to lifting heavy objects during her pregnancy. In November 2011 Plaintiff was pregnant, and she provided her boss with a doctor's note informing him of the pregnancy. In December 2011, LaSalle told her...
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Supreme Court Clarifies Pregnancy Discrimination Act Claims in Young v. UPS

On March 26, 2015,  the Supreme Court announced its decision in Young v. UPS, setting forth a new standard for how employees may prove a claim of pregnancy discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 575 U.S. ____ (2015).  In Young,  the Court faced the issue of how to interpret the second clause of the PDA, which states: women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions...
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UPS To Deliver Light Duty To Pregnant Employees

In advance of the Supreme Court's oral argument on a former employee's pregnancy discrimination case (Young v. UPS, Inc., U.S. No. 12-1226), United Parcel Service (UPS) has announced that, effective, January 1, 2015, it will make light duty available to pregnant workers with lifting or other restrictions on the same level as it offers to employees who need light duty because of worker's compensation injuries.  In explaining this change in protocol,...
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