The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday, December 3, in Young v. UPS. The case involves the issue of whether UPS was required to accommodate a 20 pound lifting restriction for one of its drivers who became pregnant in 2006.
The irony of the case is that UPS has announced that, effective in January, 2015, it will change its policy and provide accommodations for pregnant workers. Quite a noble act: patting itself on the back for being more progressive than most employers, while simultaneously defending those less progressive employers’ right to discriminate against pregnant employees.
In our view, taking harsh stances against classes of employees – like pregnant women – is short sighted and counterproductive. Rather than treat people fairly, employers sometimes defend policies that alienate a large segment of their most valuable assets – their workers – without considering the negative message they are sending. The message to UPS’ workers from Ms. Young’s case: “UPS reserves the right to be unfair if UPS can somehow find a way to argue that what we are doing is legal.” A better message would be: “We’ll be fair to our employees.”
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