Verizon Warehouse Conditions Blamed For Miscarriages, Women Say They Were Denied Lighter Work

Avatar
Written by Ann Brown

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 22: Angelica Nwandu

Jamarlin talks to the founder and CEO of The Shade Room, Angelica Nwandu. They discuss how she built a multi-million dollar media platform and her recent moves into films.

___________________________________________________________________________________

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which turned 40 in October 2018, protects pregnant women against “unequal treatment” as far as allowing women to do jobs that are open to a non-pregnant person. But what the act does not do is to protect pregnant women while on the job when they need to limit their work responsibilities due to their pregnancy.  Several women who work at a Verizon warehouse in Tennessee found this out. A New York Times investigation found that at least five women have had miscarriages while working at a Memphis warehouse run by XPO Logistics, which processes shipments for Verizon.

Peggy Young, a former worker for UPS whose health care ended when the company denied her request for special accommodations during her pregnancy, is seen with her daughter Triniti Young, 7, in Washington, Friday, Nov. 14, 2014. Young is the plaintiff in an upcoming Supreme Court case. In arguments on Dec. 3, the court will look at whether UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by forcing Young to take unpaid leave rather than offering her the same work accommodations made available to non-pregnant employees with similar limitations. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 

The stories from these women are heartbreaking and horrific and include one woman who was in the second trimester of her pregnancy. While doing an eight-hour shift at the warehouse where she was expected to do heavy lifting, she began to bleed into her jeans. According to the worker, Ms. Hayes, she began to bleed regularly at work. A number of times she left work early to go to the hospital and when she did so, each time her supervisor wrote her up. In order not to keep being written up, Hayes stopped leaving early and bled through four maxi pads a day.

“My job was on the line,” she said. But after one long shift in January 2014, blood started gushing into her jeans. This time she was taken to the hospital in an ambulance; she later miscarried.

Hayes wasn’t the only worker with a harrowing story.  “Another woke up on a blood-stained mattress after her request to leave work early the day prior was denied. Another fainted on the warehouse floor after nearly 14 hours of working on her feet. All of them lost their pregnancies,” the NYT reported.

Besides being pregnant, the other thing the women have in common is that they requested to their bosses that they be given light duty and each had been denied. Three of the women even brought in letters from doctors, but that too didn’t matter to the people in charge. Of course, the Verizon warehouse isn’t the workplace this has happened at; according to the Times women in other industries had similar experiences.

The chance of miscarrying is a real thing when doing certain task.  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has noted that workers who do “extensive occupational lifting” can experience a “modest  .”

Even still, employers are not bound by law to pay heed to your doctor’s advice. “Under federal law, companies don’t necessarily have to adjust pregnant women’s jobs, even when lighter work is available and their doctors send letters urging a reprieve,” the Times reported.

Currently, the women don’t have much recourse. “Basically, there’s very little in federal law protecting expecting mothers at work, and though some lawmakers and activists have tried to change that, little has come of their efforts,” the Times reported.