Philadelphia Employment Lawyers Discuss Supreme Court Win for Pregnant Workers
April 27, 2015
The United States Supreme Court recently ruled companies must treat pregnant workers the same as injured workers with similar restrictions.
In Young vs. United Parcel Service, Peggy Young sued UPS for pregnancy discrimination after UPS placed her on unpaid leave rather than light duty. She had been working for UPS in Maryland when she became pregnant in 2006.
Young’s doctor had given her restrictions on lifting heavy objects during the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy. She had assumed this restriction would lead to light duty and wanted to continue working. UPS frequently gave injured or disabled workers with similar restrictions light duty, but gave her unpaid leave. UPS claimed her pregnancy was classified as an “off the job condition.” According to UPS, off the job conditions were not eligible for accommodation.
Young sued, saying the classification was discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act provides companies may not treat pregnant workers differently from workers who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.” Initially the courts ruled against her. She lost her first case against the company in 2008 without a trial but appealed. The Fourth Circuit Court upheld the lower court’s decision in 2013. Young appealed again, ending up before the Supreme Court. A diverse array of groups supported her lawsuit, ranging from the ACLU and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
The Supreme Court, however, looked differently at Young’s case. They questioned why so many others had received accommodations for injuries or disabilities but Young had not received an accommodation for her pregnancy. Justice Breyer, in the majority opinion, said the lower court needed to ask, “Why, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant women as well?” The decision means the lower court must hear Young’s case again.
If you have faced pregnancy or other workplace discrimination, call an experienced employment attorney in Philadelphia. Contact Galfand Berger at 1-800-222-8792 or contact us online.