Councilmember Hucker: ‘Job Stability is so Critical for Working Women’
The case now before the U.S. Supreme Court of a United Parcel Service worker who was dismissed from her job in 2006 because she was pregnant has prompted Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker to remind pregnant workers in Maryland that they have job protection due to legislation he helped pass in 2013 while serving as a Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly.
Oral argument was heard by the Supreme Court today in the case of a woman who was told by her bosses at UPS to take unpaid leave until she was no longer pregnant. The delivery driver was denied an opportunity to have temporary light duty by the company. She eventually filed suit, saying the company violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and failed to treat her as it treated other employees. She lost twice in courts in Maryland, which agreed with UPS that she did not prove the company discriminated against her because of her pregnancy. Her appeal was heard by the Supreme Court today.
In Maryland before 2013, pregnant workers could be fired just for asking for simple on-the-job accommodations such as needing to carry a water bottle or to be able to sit on a stool. Then-Delegate Hucker introduced and then worked to pass a bill that makes it illegal for employers to fire workers for asking for such accommodations. The legislation sets conditions that the employer and employee must explore to keep the worker on the job.
“Job stability is so critical for working women before, during and after pregnancy,” said Councilmember Hucker, who was sworn in as the District 5 representative to the Council on Dec. 1. “In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly passed my legislation to provide reasonable accommodations to expecting workers so they could stay on the job. Now it is time for the Supreme Court to uphold these common sense protections across the country so that no woman has to experience further economic hardships during pregnancy like Peggy Young did.”
The Pregnant Worker Protection Act was enacted into law in Maryland within the past year. However, Councilmember Hucker said many working women are unaware of the new legislation.
“Unfortunately, many women still do not know their rights to these accommodations,” he said. “We need to inform the public about these new protections here in Maryland so that they can advocate for their rights on the job.”
Maryland was the eighth state to pass laws expanding protections to pregnant working women.
“Studies show that approximately 75 percent of women who enter the workforce will become pregnant at some point during their employment,” said Councilmember Hucker, “but in most states, none of them are legally granted the right for reasonable accommodations during their pregnancies. This legislation provides reasonable accommodation for pregnant workers and also benefits employers by retaining productive, loyal employees and reducing turnover costs.”