The Supreme Court Saves the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Today the Supreme Court made a positive affirmation of the importance of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Peggy Young claimed that her employer discriminated against her at work when it denied her a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy while other employees with similar physical limitations were granted accommodations. Ms. Young worked as a driver for UPS. When—after several miscarriages—Ms. Young finally became pregnant, her doctor instructed her to not lift more than a certain amount of weight at work. UPS, however, decided not to grant Ms. Young her medically mandated restriction and informed her that she could only continue working if she was able to lift the amount required in her job description. Ms. Young protested and requested a light-duty assignment; UPS denied her request. Consequently, Ms. Young was forced to take unpaid leave and, as a result, lost her health insurance. Ultimately, UPS allowed her to return only after she gave birth.

As a result of UPS’s decision to deny her a reasonable accommodation, Ms. Young sued, claiming that UPS had violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. A lower court, however, dismissed her claims. In the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Young v. UPS, the Court ruled that Ms. Young should have the opportunity to show that UPS illegally discriminated against her because of her pregnancy when it refused to provide her with an accommodation that was made available to her co-workers. The Court did not state that UPS’s conduct violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but it did clarify the law’s language. Despite the Court’s ruling, there are many issues that remain to be decide with regard to pregnancy discrimination.

Please contact us today if you or someone you know has been subject to discrimination.