Supreme Court Reinstates Pregnant Worker's Discrimination Claim
The United States Supreme Court overturned the dismissal of an employee’s claim against UPS (United Parcel Service) for pregnancy discrimination on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Peggy Young worked as a part-time delivery driver. When she became pregnant, her doctor told her that she should not lift more than 20 pounds for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, then no more than 10 pounds until after delivery. UPS refused to accommodate her request for light duty, even though it allowed such accommodations for employees injured on the job, employees with a qualifying disability under the ADA, and even employees who had lost their DOT driving privileges, including a driver who had been convicted of DUI. Ms. Young was forced from work onto unpaid leave, and soon lost her health benefits. Lower courts dismissed her claim for pregnancy discrimination, but the Supreme Court reinstated it and confirmed the right to accommodation for pregnant workers when their employer accommodates employees who are not pregnant and who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
The Court held that discrimination can be shown a number of ways, including through proof that “the employer accommodates a large percentage of nonpregnant workers while failing to accommodate a large percentage of pregnant workers” and the employer’s reason for doing so is not sufficiently strong to justify the burden on pregnant workers. The Court rejected UPS’s argument that because the terms of its accommodation policies were ”pregnancy-neutral,” discrimination could not be afoot. And, the Court noted that employers may also be required to accommodate pregnant workers with certain impairments under the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If you believe that your employer has failed to accommodate your pregnancy-related work restrictions, or has otherwise treated you less favorably because of your pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related medical conditions, or has failed to provide you leave from work due to pregnancy complications or to recover from childbirth, please contact us for a consultation. Jesse Wing, Joe Shaeffer, Katie Chamberlain and Leslie Hagin MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, (206) 622-1604.