The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld a
ruling that women’s pregnancies are not protected under sex discrimination laws
at the workplace.
Amanda Reeves, a former driver for Swift Transportation
Company Inc., sued her former employer in September 2003, alleging that she was
unfairly terminated because of lowered work abilities caused by her pregnancy,
according to court documents.
According to court documents, Reeves was hired by Swift
three months prior to becoming pregnant, and had agreed in writing that she
could lift and carry 75 pounds for a distance of 56 feet, and that she could
lift 60 pounds over her head.
After becoming pregnant three months later, however, she was
restricted by her doctor to lifting of no more than 20 pounds. In her suit,
Reeves alleged that Swift continued to make her work at her pre-pregnancy
levels, and eventually fired her when she could no longer keep up with her
Swift’s argument in court, however, was that
sex-discrimination laws do not cover pregnancy, based on precedent set in
Geduldig v. Aiello in 1974, and that company policy only allowed “light duty” work for employees who were injured on the job.
Reeves’ desire to continue working her job at a lesser level
also does not fall under the protection of the Family and Medical Leave Act of
1993, which only allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for pregnancies,
the court said.