The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has sided with former UPS driver Peggy Young in her legal efforts against her former employer, whom she accused of discrimination because it refused to put her on lighter duty when she was pregnant.
Ms. Young twice lost in lower courts in her effort to sue UPS for back pay and damages, but the case will now be retried after the SCOTUS decision.
The two lower-court cases and the Supreme Court ruling all hinged on wording in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, which requires pregnant women to be afforded the same accommodations as other employees. The lower courts will now have the broader SCOTUS interpretation to guide their proceedings.
Writing on behalf of the majority, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said the lower court is required to determine if the employer had “legitimate, nondiscriminatory, nonpretextual justification” for treating employees differently.
UPS had a light-duty option for workers injured on the job, but not for pregnant employees, so when Ms. Young requested light duty (not having to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds), she was placed on unpaid leave and lost her medical benefits. UPS has since changed its policy to accommodate pregnant workers.
Nine states have now enacted pregnancy discrimination laws, and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) also includes pregnancy as a protected “disability.”
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