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Is This Supreme Court Harmful to Women’s Health? Young v. UPS Will Tell

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: December 02, 2014 at 11:39 am

Cross-posted from the American Constitution Society's blog.

“Come back when you’re not pregnant.” That’s what Peggy Young testifies her supervisor told her after her medical provider advised that she avoid lifting more than 20 pounds for the remainder of her pregnancy. Young, a UPS driver from Landover, Maryland, was forced out onto unpaid leave without company health benefits. On December 3, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in her pregnancy discrimination case, Young v. UPS. The case marks the first time the Court will hear a case critical to both women’s health and economic security since the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision in June, when five Justices held that Hobby Lobby and other companies could ignore the legal requirement that they include coverage of birth control in their health insurance plans if they had religious objections to contraception. The Young case will be an important test of whether a majority of the Supreme Court continues to have a “blind spot” where women’s issues are concerned. The stakes are high for women and their families.

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Why Young v. UPS is a Reproductive Justice Issue

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: December 02, 2014 at 11:22 am

When a pregnant woman’s doctor tells her that she needs to stay off her feet, stop lifting heaving objects, or even drink plenty of water, her first thought should not be, “Will I lose my job?” But, for too many women, that’s their reality. On December 3rd, the Supreme Court will take up this issue when it hears arguments in Young v. UPS and decides whether companies can force pregnant workers to take unpaid leave rather than provide the same type of accommodations they provide to people with disabilities or on-the-job injuries. In this case, UPS even made accommodations that allowed people who had lost their commercial driver’s licenses as a result of DUI convictions to keep their jobs but refused to give light duty to former UPS driver, Peggy Young, when she became pregnant and her doctor recommended she that she not lift heavy boxes.

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Workers Are United in Support of Peggy Young

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: December 01, 2014 at 03:37 pm

In September, I attended a meeting of Respect the Bump, a group that formed when OurWalmart members began discussing online the troubles they had working at Walmart during their pregnancies. Women across the country told the same story; when they requested even minor accommodations for medical needs related to their pregnancies, Walmart denied the requests, forced them onto unpaid leave, or fired them. Walmart did this while accommodating workers with disabilities and on the job injuries. I was at the Respect the Bump meeting to conduct know-your-rights training with Elizabeth Gedmark of A Better Balance [PDF]. The women of Respect the Bump were charged with setting the agenda: we agreed to answer any questions they might have.

One of the topics the women were eager to discuss was Young v. UPS [PDF] and how they could help support the plaintiff, Peggy Young. The women were used to standing with other Walmart workers, but they told us they wanted to stand with Peggy Young as well. That’s because her case demonstrates just how widespread the problem of pregnancy discrimination remains.

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World AIDS Day: Why the AIDS Movement is Not Over

Posted by Alicia Gurrieri, Program Assistant | Posted on: December 01, 2014 at 03:03 pm

When I graduated from college in 2013, I was anxious to get my ‘real world’ job experience and was fortunate to get a job with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance as a health educator in Camden, NJ. Before starting, I had, I would estimate, average AIDS knowledge. I knew it could be transmitted through sex and I knew that, in a time before I was born, AIDS was killing lots of people. I grew up with much privilege and AIDS felt distant. It had always been historicized as an 80s movement that did not feel relevant to me: a white woman in my 20s in the 2000s. 

I learned a great deal as I was being trained to be a health educator. With my newfound knowledge, I was able to counsel people living with HIV/AIDS on risk reduction through behavior change. Most of my clients were much older than I and grew up when AIDS was equated to a death sentence. They told me their firsthand accounts of times I had read in textbooks. It was rare that I had clients who were my age simply because most young people who are newly diagnosed are difficult to reach and are not ready for counseling. I did have one client who was in his 20s. He was tough to work with because, like me, he thought that the AIDS epidemic was over and it was not a big deal anymore. He mentioned that he was ‘relieved’ to have the whole fear of ‘getting HIV out of the way’. He did not realize the struggle of living with HIV/AIDS because he was raised in the same time period I was raised. He was raised with the idea that we now have medicine that treats HIV, so it’s not really a big deal. This is what happens when we treat AIDS like an endemic.

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Walmart Moms Stand for Respect

On Black Friday, Walmart workers across the country will be standing up for $15 an hour, full-time schedules, and respect at work -- workers like Sheena Kennedy.   


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A Mother's Worry

Posted by Gail Zuagar, Outreach Associate | Posted on: November 25, 2014 at 03:19 pm

I am the mother of two Black boys. As any mother would, I worry about my children every day—that I might have to rush one of them to the hospital with a broken bone, that they might experience bullying, or that they might one day have to feel the sting of heartbreak. I suspect Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, worried about some of these things too. But she should never have had to worry that a police officer—whose job it is to uphold the law—might have killed her unarmed son.

In case any of you have been living under a rock, last August Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Michael had been staying with his grandmother all summer, and was walking back to her house with a friend when they encountered Officer Wilson. Conflicting reports suggest that there was a scuffle between Michael and the officer, but we know for sure that Michael was unarmed when he was shot dead in the street.

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It Doesn't Get Any Clearer Than This

I am so tired of hearing that there is no campus sexual assault problem, that it’s just a myth perpetuated by feminists and what’s really happening is that “[g]irls are drinking themselves blotto precisely in order to lower their inhibitions for casual sex, then regretting it afterwards.” It’s incred

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Judicial Nominations Update

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: November 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Happy Friday! As we noted on Wednesday, five more district court nominees were slated for Senate votes this week. Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Pamela Pepper to the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Brenda K. Sannes to the Northern District of New York, Madeline Cox Arleo to the District of New Jersey, Wendy Beetlestone to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Victor Allen Bolden to the District of Connecticut. Their confirmations are notable, not only for the diversity that they bring to the federal bench, but because they bring the number of current judicial vacancies down to 56.

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