This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Young v. UPS, a case that asks whether or not pregnant employees must be granted the same work limitations as those granted to disabled and injured workers. The plaintiff in the case is Peggy Young, a woman who worked for UPS delivering letters and packages. She became pregnant while working for UPS and, based on her doctor’s recommendation, requested a light-duty position so that she wouldn’t have to lift packages weighing more than 20 pounds. UPS denied Young's request and forced her to take unpaid leave. While on unpaid leave, she lost both her salary and her health benefits – crucial support she needed as she prepared for the birth of her child.
UPS argues that, while they do provide accommodations for employees who are dealing with on-the-job related injuries or disabilities, they do not provide accommodations for injuries that occur while employees are not on the job. They argue that, since Young's pregnancy occurred off the job, they were not required to offer accommodations for her.
In 2008, Congress amended the Americans with Disabilities Act to require accommodation of temporary disabilities. In the federal government's interpretation, pregnancy falls under the umbrella of "temporary disability." Young’s lawyer contends that UPS is in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. This amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII.
Once the Supreme Court agreed to hear Peggy Young’s case, UPS decided to change their policy to accommodate pregnant workers.
The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief in support of Young, and you can read more about her case on our national blog. You can also find additional case background and analysis of today’s argument at SCOTUSblog.