ACLU: UPS forced pregnant LIer to take unpaid leave

Julie Desantis-Mayer, 31, of Ronkonkoma and her infant Julie Desantis-Mayer, 31, of Ronkonkoma and her infant daughter in an undated photo. The ACLU has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the Atlanta-based shipping giant of refusing to reassign her to a position that didn't require lifting heavy packages and forcing her to take unpaid maternity leave. Photo Credit: ACLU

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The American Civil Liberties Union Wednesday filed a complaint with federal employment officials accusing United Parcel Service Inc. of forcing a pregnant Long Islander to take unpaid leave and cause her medical coverage to lapse.

The complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accuses the Atlanta shipping giant of refusing to reassign Julie Desantis-Mayer of Ronkonkoma to a position that didn't require lifting heavy packages.

"I was ready and willing to keep working throughout my pregnancy to provide for my family," said Desantis-Mayer, 31, who noted she has worked 10 years for UPS as a driver and package handler.

UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said the company does not discriminate against pregnant workers, citing a federal appeals court ruling stemming from a similar complaint in Maryland. The ruling, she said, found the company was "pregnancy blind."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination against employees, including those who are pregnant. If the commission finds evidence that a company committed wrongdoing, it can file a federal lawsuit.

UPS policy allows accommodations for workers temporarily unable to perform all aspects of their job, including if they are injured or have their driver's licenses revoked because of drunken driving, according to the complaint, jointly filed by the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Desantis-Mayer, who routinely lifts packages as heavy as 70 pounds, was told in April by her doctor that she shouldn't lift more than 25 pounds, the complaint said. When she told her supervisor at a Farmingville UPS that she was pregnant, she was asked if she expected "special treatment," according to the complaint.

The company forced Desantis-Mayer to take unpaid leave in April, she said. Her daughter was born in December. The hospital bill has not arrived yet. So it is unclear, she said, how the lapse in medical coverage will affect her ability to pay. She is scheduled to return to work Feb. 26.

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