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Supreme Court To Hear Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Supreme Court To Hear Pregnancy Discrimination Case

July 2, 2014 — The Supreme Court has agreed to review a pregnancy discrimination claim involving a UPS employee who was denied a light-duty assignment that would have allowed her to continue working during her pregnancy, the AP/ABC News reports.

According to AP/ABC News, the case will likely be heard in the fall or winter (AP/ABC News, 7/1).

Background

After UPS employee Peggy Young became pregnant in 2006, her physician advised her to not lift items weighing more than 20 pounds during the first half of her pregnancy and items weighing more than 10 pounds during the second half of her pregnancy.

In the lawsuit, Young said that UPS' union contract made light-duty assignments available to employees with job-related injuries, employees who are considered permanently disabled under the Americans With Disabilities Act and employees who have lost their federal driver's certification. She said that other employees were not eligible for light duty.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Young took an unpaid leave of absence and returned to her job after giving birth (Asseo, Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/1). She also lost her employer-sponsored health benefits during the leave of absence (AP/ABC News, 7/1).

Young sued UPS under the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PL 95-555). A federal judge and a Virginia-based appeals court both ruled against Young, finding that UPS' policy treated pregnant and non-pregnant employees alike.

Supreme Court Appeal

Young in her appeal to the Supreme Court argued that PDA requires employers to accommodate pregnant workers' needs in the same way that they would accommodate workers with comparable "ability or inability to work," regardless of the origin of a worker's condition.

In an amicus brief, the Obama administration argued that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had erred in ruling against Young. However, the administration said that the Supreme Court should not hear her case because the Americans With Disabilities Act was amended in 2008 to accommodate employees with temporary disabilities.

Meanwhile, UPS in court filings said that other federal courts have agreed with the 4th Circuit, ruling that the company acted lawfully because it used criteria other than pregnancy to determine which employees were eligible for light duty (Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/1).