United Parcel Service Changes Its Tune

A pregnant United Parcel Service employee sued UPS because she requested a temporary light duty position because her physician recommended it until she gave birth and UPS declined to accommodate their employee.

But isn’t UPS a wonderful company that loves its employees, customers and the environment? You might believe that if you watch their heartwarming video here. UPS says it’s “Committed to More” but apparently UPS is “Not Committed to More” when it comes to their pregnant employees.

Until now. After being sued and fighting its employee all the way to the United States Supreme Court, UPS decided to provide the option of a temporary light duty position to its pregnant drivers.

It says so right in UPS’ Supreme Court brief:

Although not mandated by federal law, UPS has elected to voluntarily provide pregnant women the same accommodations as other employees with similar physical restrictions resulting from on-the job activities. Accordingly, while UPS’s denial of petitioner’s accommodation request was lawful at the time it was made (and thus cannot give rise to a claim for damages), pregnant UPS employees will prospectively be eligible for light-duty assignments.

A cynic, like me, might say that UPS is doing this because they know they’ll probably get hammered by the Supremes, but even if they don’t, it’s bad public relations. Which makes me wonder why they picked this fight to begin with. Especially when UPS brags about its “Empowered People” and being all about employee safety. UPS claims:

Our people are UPS’s most important asset. Which is why ensuring their health, wellness and safety is engrained in our culture – it’s a part of who we are. We invest millions of dollars in health and safety training every year, because we want UPSers to make it home – their most important stop of the day – safely.

Unless you’re pregnant. Then you’re on your own!

UPS is also, it claims, all about “Diversity & Inclusion”. Unless you’re pregnant. That doesn’t count, despite UPS’ claim to the contrary:

Our Employee Diversity & Inclusion Strategy represents our commitment to creating an environment where all employees feel valued, respected and fully engaged to contribute to our future success. In support of that strategy, UPS’s definition of diversity extends beyond race, age and gender to also include differences in ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, education, religion, physical ability, values, backgrounds and experiences.

Oh brother.

This is just another case where a lack of common sense trumps all the legal stuff like EEOC guidelines, regulations and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. UPS is a large company with thousands of employees worldwide. It’s difficult to imagine UPS could not have accommodated its pregnant employee while she was pregnant. It sure would have been easier to do that than to pay a bunch of lawyers to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post has a good article on this case here.


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