January 15, 2020

PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION SEES MOVEMENT ON HILL, IN COURT: The House Education and Labor Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would expand discrimination protections for pregnant workers. H.R. 2694 (116) would require that employers provide pregnant workers "reasonable accommodation" at work and would bar employers from denying workers employment opportunities on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or "related medical conditions" — i.e., postpartum depression. Members adopted via voice vote a substitute amendment from Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) that he said "reflect input received from numerous organizations" — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which recently endorsed the revised language. It’s not clear when the bill will receive a floor vote.

Meanwhile, a federal appeals court will consider what a pregnant worker must prove to demonstrate discrimination. At 10 a.m. the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit will hear oral arguments in Durham v. Rural/Metro Corp., a case brought by an EMT who requested lighter work accommodations when she became pregnant but was given only the option to take paid leave. Michelle Durham’s company told her that its “light duty policy” applied only to workers who suffered a work injury or were on worker's compensation. Her lawsuit argues that exclusion violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Supreme Court addressed the issue five years ago in Young v. UPS, saying a pregnant worker suffered discrimination if her employer accommodated others “similar in their ability or inability to work.” But the lower court said Durham’s case failed that test. The EEOC filed an amicus brief in support of Durham’s appeal, arguing that the court’s “misapplication” of the Young test makes it harder for individuals "to pursue meritorious claims.”

Kalpana Kotagal, an attorney at Cohen Milsteintold Morning Shift that “the courts really have struggled with the application” of the Young test. Durham’s case, she said, offers “an important place for the 11th Circuit to really identify clarify what Young v. UPS really established.”

The complete article can be accessed here.