UPS Inc (NYSE: UPS) has agreed to a $2.25 million settlement to resolve a dispute alleging that the company discriminated against pregnant parcel workers.
The agreement reached with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will provide payment to UPS workers who weren't properly compensated while they were pregnant between 2012 and 2014. The settlement payment will be primarily the difference between short-term disability payments they received and the amount they would have received if they had been allowed to work, according to the EEOC.
The agency pointed out that until UPS changed its pregnancy policy in 2015, the company had provided light-duty assignments to employees who had been injured on the job, those with certain driving restrictions and those with disabilities – but not to pregnant employees. A UPS driver subsequently alleged that not doing so violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by prohibiting pregnancy discrimination.
The agreement also clarifies that UPS' obligation to pregnant workers extends to both unionized and non-unionized workers.
"The EEOC commends UPS for agreeing to resolve this matter short of litigation by making whole UPS workers who were not accommodated during pregnancy under UPS' previous policy," said EEOC New York District Office Director Kevin Berry. "I also applaud UPS for confirming that it will accommodate both union and non-union employees, and that accommodation may take forms other than light-duty assignments."
In response to the settlement, UPS said that it works with pregnant employees to ensure a positive work experience, including caring for related medical conditions. "Our maternity leave benefits have included paid time off and opportunities for light-duty work assignments for several years, and this agreement reinforces that commitment," the company said in a statement. "This agreement essentially confirms the policies that UPS made effective on Jan. 1, 2015 to provide pregnant employees with light-duty or alternative-work assignments."
The EEOC agreement also clarifies that accommodations beside light duty may be appropriate, and that UPS' accommodation obligation under the PDA extends to childbirth and related medical conditions. In addition, it provides for training of human resources and supervisory employees and for notifying employees on the revised policy, as well as for reporting procedures to the EEOC on pregnancy accommodation requests and complaints.
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