Law professors file amicus brief for working pregnant women

| October 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Professors from the University of St. Thomas School of Law are among the primary drafters and organizers of a friend-of-the-court brief in a case involving the protection of working pregnant women that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The impact of the case could mean fewer abortions, according to Teresa Stanton Collett, who with fellow law professor Tom Berg was counsel on the amicus brief.

A third St. Thomas law professor, Elizabeth Schlitz, also made contributions to the brief, according to a news release from the Twin Cities university.

Collett, who is director of the University of St. Thomas Pro-life Center, and Berg, a board member of Democrats for Life, filed the brief on behalf of 23 pro-life organizations in support of Peggy Young, a delivery driver for UPS whose request for an accommodation due to her pregnancy was denied by the company.

Young’s doctor recommended that she lift no more than 20 pounds during her pregnancy. She requested a light-duty assignment or assistance by another employee to deliver heavier packages.

UPS denied her requests, and both a lower court and an appellate court ruled in favor of the company, saying UPS did not have to accommodate Young because it did not accommodate every other worker who had lifting restrictions.

The pro-life groups’ friend-of-the-court brief argues that the question is not whether an employer accommodates every worker with similar limitations, but rather, whether the employer accommodates any worker similarly.

The Young v. UPS case tests if the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer to accommodate a pregnant employee when that employer accommodates other workers.

Collett told The Catholic Spirit, “One of the primary reasons women obtain abortions is because women feel that they cannot afford to support another child,” a finding she said that comes from several research efforts.

If, by companies agreeing to accommodations such as those Young requested, women are able to continue to earn a paycheck, Collett said the hope is that they would choose then to decide against abortion.

A group that is part of a Catholic university like St. Thomas needs to add its voice to a case such as Young that can have a positive impact on abortion, Collett said.

“It’s important for the Church to give initiative to its pro-life stance,” she said.

The case is on the U.S. Supreme Court calendar for Dec. 3.

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