US Supreme Court Rules in Favor of UPS Worker in Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that a company’s failure to include pregnancy discrimination in a disability plan did not constitute sex discrimination. Congress promptly passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to remedy the Court’s ruling, but since that day the federal courts have tussled over what is and what is not required by that law. Yesterday, on a vote of 6-3, the United States Supreme Court allowed a former UPS driver to proceed with her pregnancy discrimination claim against UPS in the case of Young v. UPS. During the time Young worked at UPS, the company had a policy of offering light duty work to employees that were injured on the job, had a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or lost their commercial drivers license — but not pregnant women. According to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the key question in this case was “[w]hy, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant women as well?” In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia stated that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act “does not prohibit denying pregnant women accommodations, or any other benefit for that matter, on the basis of an evenhanded policy.” Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas joined the dissent.
Women’s rights groups and Young’s lawyer at the Supreme Court, Samuel Bagenstos, praised the Court’s decision: “We think it’s a big win for Peggy Young. We think it’s a big win for pregnant workers around the country.” But the wheels of justice often turn slowly. Ms. Young, who is now 43, left the company in 2009. Her daughter is now 7.

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