April 9, 2015
Recently, an appeals court decision in a case involving a pregnant UPS driver was tossed by the Supreme Court, who ruled 6-3 that UPS could not deny pregnant workers accommodations made available to a large number of employees.
In Young v. UPS, a pregnancy discrimination case, the U.S. Supreme court sent the case back to lower courts for further review. According to various news sources including USA Today, an employee of UPS, Peggy Young, was discriminated against when she was forced to take unpaid leave from her job without benefits, as light duty accommodations available to other employees under various circumstances were not met by UPS. Since her parting from UPS in 2009, the transportation company has updated its employee policy to accommodate pregnancies.
The Supreme Court did indicate in its ruling that pregnancy is not automatically a ticket to light duty at work, however the decision also sided with pregnant women, claiming that pregnant employees could not be denied accommodations for light duty work made to other employees. While the ruling was split and not a total victory for Young or any pregnant workers at UPS, her side of the case was bolstered by the fact that the Supreme Court threw out the appeals courts’ decision that supported UPS, with Young’s case being sent back for further review. Ultimately, the 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court allows women who are pregnant to claim the accommodations many other employees are granted in similar situations where work restrictions are required.
In the Young vs. UPS case, the plaintiff was denied light duty as a driver due to the fact that her pregnancy was not the result of an injury that occurred on the job. At the time, UPS’ company policy indicated that women who were pregnant should be treated the same as employees who were injured outside of performing their job duties. While the court did not state that pregnant employees deserve the same treatment as any similarly restricted worker, it did say that if a large or substantial number of other UPS workers were accommodated, pregnant workers would have a solid claim for equal treatment.
Co-president of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger said that “The court has put employers on notice pregnancy is not a reason to discriminate.” Women’s groups across the nation have applauded the Supreme Court’s ruling. In 2006, all Peggy Young asked for was to be designated tasks in her job duties that required lifting a maximum of 20 lbs., instead of the 70 lbs. her positions as a part-time UPS driver called for. In her lawsuit, Young is seeking back pay and benefits. In the end, both women and UPS are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, as the court adopted a new standard for evaluating pregnancy discrimination claims without finding that the transportation/delivery company’s pregnancy-neutral policy was inherently discriminatory.
Currently, nine state in the U.S. require employers to accommodate pregnant employees; there are also similar laws that are currently in review in approximately six other U.S. states.
At Bautista Allen, we realize that employment discrimination is a huge issue in the workplace in many industries, and that employees may be discriminated against in regards to race, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical disability, ethnicity, and other factors. If you are a victim of employment discrimination in the Kansas City Metro area, contact our law firm today for vigorous and effective legal guidance and representation.