Hot off the Press: Discrimination Issues

By Linda H. Evans,
Senior Associate.


Two discrimination issues were in the news this week. The first issue deals with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. On December 3, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the UPS case and will determine whether the company had the responsibility to provide light duty work to one of its pregnant employees after her doctor advised her not to lift heavy packages. The company refused, and she was put on unpaid leave.


The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) does not have the same specific requirements to provide workplace accommodations as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), since a normal pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADA. Although the PDA does offer some job protections, there are gaps in the protections. However, you should be aware that the Houston area’s EEOC has taken the position that if a company gives its disabled employees accommodations, it has to provide the same or similar accommodations to pregnant women. We’ll find out in June what the Supreme Court thinks about this.


The second issue involves a DOL final rule which was issued on December 3, 2014, prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This final ruling implements the executive order that was signed by President Obama in July. The rule, that will become effective 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register, will bar federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against LGBT job applicants and employees. The new rule will apply to covered contracts entered into or modified on or after that date.


If you have questions about either of these issues, be sure to give us a call!