New mothers might be exempt from physical ability tests

A woman who had recently had a baby and who was denied a job as a security guard after failing a physical-fitness test could sue the company for pregnancy discrimination, a federal judge in Alabama recently ruled.

The test required job applicants to perform 29 sit-ups in two minutes.

The woman claimed she was unable to complete enough sit-ups because her stomach muscles were weak from childbirth several months earlier. She sued the employer under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

The employer argued that because the woman’s doctor had cleared her to take the test, she couldn’t claim that she had a childbirth-related condition that exempted her.

But the court said the doctor’s note merely indicated that the woman could safely take the test. It didn’t mean that she didn’t have a physical condition related to childbirth, or that she wasn’t protected by the law.