I read about a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit that I wanted to get your take on — not as legal experts, of course, just on the morals and merits of the case.
The deets of the case are thus: Heather Spees discovered she was pregnant shortly after starting a job as a welder at James Marine Inc. in Paducah, Ky. — the only female worker at one of JMI’s multiple facilities.
After her employer became aware of her pregnancy, Spees was transferred to a different shift doing a different job, then fired after her doctor told her she needed bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.
Last week, a 6th Circuit appeals court panel in Cincinnati ruled that Spees could pursue claims that her transfer constituted pregnancy and disability discrimination, for the most part overturning a lower court decision.
However, the appellate panel ruled, Spees could not pursue a claim that her firing also was pregnancy discrimination, since she voluntarily supplied a doctor’s note advising bed rest.
In the 2-1 ruling, the appeals court panel said, "As a whole, the evidence is sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether JMI management, rather than undertaking an objective evaluation to determine whether Spees could perform the welding job while pregnant, instead subjectively viewed Spees’ pregnancy as rendering her unable to weld," Workforce Management reports.
"This would allow a reasonable jury to find that JMI’s decision to transfer Spees was made out of concern for her pregnancy and the well-being of her unborn child rather than because Spees was unable to perform her job as a welder. Such concerns, though laudatory, do not justify an adverse employment action," according to the ruling.
What do you think? Was Spees’ transfer appropriate? Her termination? Both? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Employee Benefit News content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access