Supreme Court Rules Against UPS in Pregnancy Discrimination Case


The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a worker suing her employer for putting her on unpaid leave while she was pregnant, rejecting opposing arguments presented by her and her employers and finding an alternative reason that her lawsuit should not be dismissed.

Peggy Young, the plaintiff in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc,, argued that UPS discriminated against her under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by putting her on unpaid leave while she was pregnant. She had told her manager that because of her pregnancy she would not be able to lift packages of a certain weight, as required by her job as a UPS driver???. However, UPS said pregnancy did not qualify her for the light-duty work the company assigned some other employees.

Young said that by not giving her the same accommodations that UPS gave others who requested lighter work because of similar limitations, those with disabilities, those injured on the job and those who had lost their driving certification, the company violated laws stating that pregnant women should be “treated the same” in employment practices as “other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.”

UPS countered that since not all employees; those injured off the job, for example, were guaranteed accommodations under its policy, it was not discriminating specifically against pregnant women.

The court, in a 6-3 decision delivered Wednesday, rejected both lines of argument. Instead, the majority said Young could further her case using the framework of a disparate-impact claim, “showing actions taken by the employer from which one can infer, if such actions remain unexplained, that it is more likely than not that such actions were based on a discriminatory criterion illegal under [the relevant civil rights law].” read more