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Supreme Court hears pregnancy case

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Dec 3, 2014
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Supreme Court hears pregnancy case

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Dec 3, 2014
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The Supreme Court is hearing a pregnancy discrimination case Wednesday that involves a woman who sued the United Parcel Service. 

Lower courts have basically dismissed the lawsuit, brought by former UPS worker Peggy Young. Still, businesses are paying attention to this case.

“I’m not getting anybody that’s freaking out right now,” says Steve Hirschfeld, an employment lawyer and partner at Hirschfeld Kraemer in San Francisco. But he says clients are wondering what’ll happen if Young wins. “Are we going to need to hire somebody on a temporary basis, or temporarily move this person to another job? For very small companies, that can be very, very difficult to do.”

He says the biggest cost for employers if Peggy Young wins would be an avalanche of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits. Other employment lawyers say, not necessarily. 

Katherine Kimpel represents workers in discrimination cases as D.C. managing partner at Sanford Heisler. She filed a friend of the court brief in support of Young. She says pregnant workers feel vulnerable, and aren’t likely to file lawsuits, even if Young wins.

Kimpel also says many pregnant workers request accommodations that cost almost nothing.

“Things like being able to keep a water bottle with them,” she says. “Or having – if they work at a cash register – having a stool.”

And Kimpel says, accommodating pregnant workers makes good business sense, because it helps companies retain their workers. 

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