Senator Kemp Hannon
6th District New York
Hannon Urges Supreme Court to End Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace



Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau), along with other bipartisan law makers from across the county, submitted an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief to the Supreme Court of the United States, urging a decision that would put an end to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. 


“It is simply abhorrent that women today are still being denied equal treatment in the workplace. Women have come to me, telling me of their horrific experiences where they were forced to choose between their health and that of their child, or their job,” said Hannon, “The federal law has failed to protect woman, which led me to introduce state legislation the Senate has passed  for two consecutive years that would put an end this discrimination.”


Federal Law requires employers to offer pregnant women reasonable accommodations – the same types of accommodations that are required to be provided to disabled employees – and treat them the same for all employment-related purposes as other non-pregnant persons similar in their ability or inability to work. However, judicial interpretations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) have gutted the intent of the laws.  As a result, state law makers have had to introduce legislation on a state by state basis to enable women to remain safely in the workplace throughout their pregnancy. 


Accommodations as simple as a stool, bathroom breaks, or carrying a water bottle, can enable a woman to work safely throughout her pregnancy, so that she continues to obtain a paycheck at such a critical time in her life.  


In the matter of Young v. United Postal Service, the District Court granted summary judgment for the United Postal Service. The Fourth Circuit Court upheld the lower court’s dismissal finding that Young had not raised an issue of fact as to whether she was disabled under the ADA as it was drafted at the time, and that the employer’s policy did not violate the PDA as it provided the same limited accommodations for pregnant and non-pregnant workers.  The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in order to address the question of whether, and in what circumstances, the PDA requires an employer who provides accommodations to non-pregnant employees to provide accommodations to pregnant employees who have a similar ability or inability to work.


“We are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Fourth Circuit’s decision and uphold the original intent of the federal law,” said Hannon.  “The Judges of the Court need to be aware that policy makers across the country are stepping up to the plate to address this gap in the law created by judicial interpretation. If the court decides in favor of the petitioner, each state would not have to advance separate legislation. But until such decision is rendered, the New York State Senate will continue to support my legislation to protect pregnant workers,” exclaimed Hannon. 


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