Supreme Court to Settle Issue of Pregnant Workers’ Rights

The case involving former UPS air driver Peggy Young and her pregnancy discrimination lawsuit has garnered a lot of attention throughout the United States. It officially went in front of the Supreme Court in early December, which means it now falls on the shoulders of the nation’s highest court to determine whether UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

In the case, young requested a temporary job change to light-duty work so that she would not have to engage in any heavy lifting while pregnant, a change that had been requested by her midwife. In refusing to grant this temporary change, Young claims that UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as the company has granted the change to a variety of other workers of different classes. UPS’s argument is that there have been other employees that were denied the change to light-duty accommodation, so the policy was not particularly discriminatory against pregnant women.

A major part of the Supreme Court decision will be determining the full extent of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Justice Antonin Scalia raised the question of whether Young’s understanding of the law would also mean that all pregnant employees would also have to receive any type of accommodation given to other employees, including (for example) being driven to work like senior employees.

Justice Elana Kagan challenged the UPS attorneys’ interpretation of the law, and suggested that employers would need to be able to show that there was some reason aside from pregnancy that UPS refused the change. Justice Stephen Breyer, however, indicated Young may have been better served in filing a disparate impact claim.

The case continues to progress, and it is unclear when a verdict is to be expected. When it comes, it is expected to have a wide-reaching impact on employee law.

For more information on pregnant workers’ rights, speak with a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination attorney at the Derek T. Smith Law Group, PLLC.

 

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