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Supreme court to hear 2 workplace discrimination cases

| Oct 7, 2014 | Workplace Discrimination |

Missouri workers may be interested in two cases before the United States Supreme Court this week. Both have to do with questions surrounding workplace discrimination.

In the first case, Young v. United Parcel Service, oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 3. It is likely a decision will be handed down sometime in the late spring.

The question before the Court is whether or not UPS has to accommodate their pregnant workers who can no longer lift heavy parcels during their pregnancies. There is already the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that mandates employers that allow special accommodations for those employees with limitations who are not pregnant to provide similar arrangements to their pregnant employees.

In its ruling, a lower court found that UPS’ “pregnancy-blind policy” was lawful because it limited its accommodations to those workers who were legally designated as disabled, those hurt on the job or who had been decertified by the Department of Transportation. But a pregnant employee has appealed to the highest court in the land because she alleges that her needs weren’t accommodated during her pregnancy.

The other case of note, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., focuses on whether or not the retail clothing chain is guilty of religious discrimination.

At the center of the case is a Muslim woman who applied for a job and was rejected for the position. The case questions whether she was rejected for wearing her hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women for religious reasons.

The case specifically questions whether a company must have “actual knowledge” that such a practice, in this case, wearing a hijab, has religious significance in order to be forced to accommodate the employee’s right to wear it even though it violates their dress code, which consists of preppy attire. The retailer’s argument is that they shouldn’t be, as the applicant never explicitly stated that the head scarf held religious meaning. Arguments have not yet been scheduled before the Court.

Missouri employees with specific questions about possible discrimination can speak to an attorney for more information.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “Supreme Court Poised to Decide Cases on Bias, Employment, and Outlaw Fish” Paul M. Barrett, Oct. 06, 2014

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