It was a partial win, but a win nonetheless. The U.S. Supreme Court has vacated and remanded a Fourth Circuit decision in favor of UPS, which is great news for Peggy Young. Let UPS explain to a jury why it cannot accommodate a pregnant woman to do some light work, instead of suspending her without pay because she cannot lift 70-lb. boxes.
I wrote to you about this case when we submitted an amicus brief back in September, but here are the basic facts again. Peggy Young was a UPS driver which required her to do some heavy lifting and which she couldn’t do on doctor’s orders once she became pregnant in 2006. She was then put on unpaid leave because she wouldn’t qualify for the company’s “light duty” accommodation. This left her not only without pay, but without health insurance.
The court below (4th Cir.) sided with UPS, saying that employers can deny accommodations to their pregnant employees so long as no employees with “off the job” injuries are also denied that accommodation.
We object to that conclusion based on the spirit of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which sought to end discrimination against pregnant women and reduce the obvious pressure on women to have an abortion in order not to lose their jobs and health benefits. But the Fourth Circuit believed the PDA only required the company to do as it did for other “similarly situated employees.”
With today’s decision, UPS will have to explain themselves in front of a jury, something I suspect they will try to avoid. They should settle with Ms. Young and provide reasonable accommodation for pregnant women, as they should have done all along.
Click here to read the Court’s opinion.
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