Pregnancy Discrimination Still Exist

Nine U.S. senators, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, demanded that Verizon and the subcontractor that runs its Memphis warehouse, XPO Logistics, answer published details about unusually high levels of pregnancy discrimination there – and take definitive detailed steps to stop it.

In letters to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and XPO CEO Bradley Jacobs, the group also demand details of both firms’ policies on legal accommodations for temporarily disabled, pregnant workers, and their policies for preventing pregnancy discrimination on the job.

And in the letter to Verizon’s Vestberg, the solons chide his firm for permitting such discrimination, especially by one of its subcontractors.

The Nov. 20 letters follow a New York Times investigative story a month before about working conditions at XPO’s Memphis warehouse. Its workers pack and ship Verizon devices.

The Communications Workers, who represent most Verizon workers, have often had rocky relations with that firm. The Teamsters, who represent some XPO workers, have found themselves walking informational picket lines, especially in the South, over working conditions.

The lawmakers also reminded both companies they hold federal contracts — $85 million in Verizon’s case – and that federal law comes down particularly hard on federal contractors who discriminate on the basis of pregnancy.

Pregnancy discrimination violates federal equal employment opportunity and civil rights laws, and those same laws order firms to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers, especially workers who produce MDs’ orders for such changes.

Yet at the Memphis warehouse, XPO routinely ordered pregnant women to lift and shift parcels and devices weighing 50-75 pounds each. They were also forced into excessive bending and standing for extremely long periods of time. In guidelines for care for pregnant women, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists bans such actions, especially for women with high-risk pregnancies.

But XPO disregarded the guidelines, forced the women into heavy work, and higher-than-normal rates of miscarriages resulted, the letters to the CEOs said.

“Women should never, while pregnant or at any time during parenthood, be forced to choose between having a child and continuing