ArticlesVolume 17, Number 2 (2008)

Flirting with the PDA: Congress Must Give Birth to Accommodation Rights that Protect Pregnant Working Women

Abstract

Amanda Reeves began working for Swift Transportation Company, Inc. (Swift) as a truck driver on August 9, 2002. When she applied for the job, the employer advised her that the position required occasional physical activity, such as bending, twisting, climbing, squatting, crouching, and balancing, and that she would be required to push and pull contents weighing up to 200 pounds. Reeves was physically able to meet the demands of the position when she was hired, and the employer recognized that she was qualified for the job . On November 2, 2002, Reeves learned that she was pregnant, and her doctors determined that she was able to continue working, but restricted her to light work. The employer responded by informing her that there were no available light duty positions and sent her home. Reeves continued to ask for light duty work, but the employer insisted that there was nothing available. After two weeks of daily inquiries for light duty work, her employment was terminated on November 14, 2002. On January 7, 2003, Reeves filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). During the lawsuit, Swift maintained that only employees injured on the job received light duty work, and since Reeves was not alleging a job-related injury, light duty work in the form of administrative duties, such as filing and answering phones, could not be made available to her. Without a hearing, the circuit court affirmed the district court’s decision that Swift’s light duty policy did not amount to pregnancy discrimination and that Reeves did not prove pretext or intent to discriminate. In fact, the court noted that Reeves’s complaint asked the court to grant her preferential treatment, rather than equal treatment, which conflicts with the requirements of the PDA.”