ANA Decries Unequal Treatment for Pregnant Workers, Supports Efforts to Provide Short-Term Accommodations (12/2/14)

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December 2, 2014

Jemarion Jones

Adam Sachs, 301-628-5034

ANA Decries Unequal Treatment for Pregnant Workers, Supports Efforts to Provide Short-Term Accommodations 
ANA Closely Watching Pregnancy Discrimination Case Before Supreme Court

SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association (ANA) is closely watching Young v. United Parcel Service (UPS), a case set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this week that highlights the challenges many pregnant women still face in trying to balance work responsibilities and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

ANA joined other organizations in filing an amicus or “friend of the court” brief in support of the petitioner, Peggy Young. After becoming pregnant, Young’s health care provider advised her not to lift anything heavy. Instead of providing short-term modifications to her work duties, UPS instructed Young to take unpaid leave from her job as a driver until she was no longer pregnant. Young subsequently sued UPS for violating the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

“As this case illustrates, many women still face an unfair and impossible choice between losing their jobs and ignoring the advice of health care providers to maintain a healthy pregnancy,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “ANA stands with the health care and women’s advocacy communities in calling on the Supreme Court and lawmakers to end workplace pregnancy discrimination and give pregnant workers the support needed to maintain financial security and maternal health.”

While many women can work throughout their pregnancies without job modifications, some women, on the advice of their health care provider, require modest short-term accommodations to perform their job duties without compromising their pregnancy.

In recent years, nine states have passed laws guaranteeing pregnant workers the short-term modifications needed to perform their jobs. In July 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidelines explicitly calling for employers to give pregnant workers reasonable accommodations. Further, in October 2014, UPS finally changed its policy to offer temporary light duty positions not just to workers injured on the job, but to pregnant workers who may need them as well.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in this case has the potential to strengthen job protections under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and affirm a pregnant woman’s right to work without potentially putting her health in jeopardy.

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ANA is the only full-service professional organization representing the interests of the nation's 3.1 million registered nurses through its constituent and state nurses associations and its organizational affiliates. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.