U.S. Supreme Court to Determine Necessary Accommodations for Pregnant Employees

PregnantIn December of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding what types of accommodations employers must make for pregnant employees. The case is Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. and it raises issues under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) which requires employers to treat pregnant workers the same as others for employment purposes, but the PDA does not state what accommodations must be provided.

Facts of the Case

Peggy Young was a driver for United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS). When she became pregnant, she provided her supervisor and UPS’s occupational health manager a written recommendation from her midwife that she not lift over 20 pounds during her pregnancy.

Ms. Young stated that she was willing to do either light duty or her regular job, but her manager told her those accommodations were only for parties protected by the ADA. Young was not allowed to return to work until she was no longer pregnant. She was required to take an extended, unpaid leave of absence, which resulted in her losing her medical coverage. Young returned to work a couple of months after having her baby.

Procedural Background

Young exhausted her remedies at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and then she filed a lawsuit. She claimed that UPS violated the PDA and discriminated against her by failing to provide the same accommodations that it provided non-pregnant employees who were similarly limited in their ability to work. The district court ruled in favor of UPS claiming its refusal to provide accommodations to Young was based upon “gender-neutral criteria.” The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

Issues before the Supreme Court

The primary issue before the U.S. Supreme Court is whether the PDA requires an employer to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees if it provides accommodations to non-pregnant employees who are similarly limited in their ability to work. The EEOC has stated that its position is that employers cannot treat pregnant employees differently from workers who are similar in their ability or inability to work based on the cause of their limitations.

If you have questions regarding this decision or any other employment law matter, contact the employment attorneys at The Swenson Law Firm.

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