In a case that united Pro-Life and Pro-Choice organizations, the Supreme Court overturned a decision in apparent support of protecting pregnant females against employment discrimination.
As reported by US News & World Report, Plaintiff Peggy Young worked as an “air driver” for United Parcel Service (UPS), a job that required her to lift packages weighing up to 70 lbs. When she became pregnant and her midwife recommended that she lift no more than 20 lbs. (which Young testified she rarely exceeded), UPS determined that her restrictions did not qualify for “light duty” accommodations. She was then placed on unpaid leave for the duration of her pregnancy, which ultimately resulted in her losing medical benefits.
UPS’s decision regarding “light duty accommodations” for a pregnant employee has called into question the application of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that requires employers to treat pregnant women in the same manner as non-pregnant workers. Generally an employer must make light duty accommodations for an employee with an injury that results in a disability that substantially limits a major life activity. Although UPS has since changed its policy, at the time Young was placed on unpaid leave, UPS limited the light duty accommodation to those employees who were injured on the job. The company determined that her pregnancy was not job-related and placed her on leave.
Granting UPS’s motion for summary judgment, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims, a ruling that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit later affirmed. As reported by Reuters, this week the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decision, sending the case back to the Fourth Circuit to determine proper application of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Employment discrimination based on pregnancy, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or religion is unacceptable. The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group have represented employees in these situations, and are here to help you, too. If you have questions about your rights, please contact us today.