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Pregnancy Discrimination

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US Supreme Court – Pregnancy Discrimination Decision

On March 25, 2015, the Supreme Court decided a pregnancy discrimination case brought by Peggy Young, a part-time driver for UPS.

After several miscarriages, Young became pregnant. Her doctor restricted her from lifting more than 20 pounds during the first half of her pregnancy and from lifting more than 10 pounds in the second half of her pregnancy. UPS sent her home on unpaid leave because she could not meet their requirement for UPS drivers to be able to lift up to 70 pounds. UPS cancelled her employer-sponsored health insurance while Young remained off work on unpaid leave for the duration of her pregnancy.

Young sued UPS, claiming pregnancy discrimination because UPS provided accommodations for some, but not all, other workers who needed to be assigned light work. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1976 amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to explicitly state that pregnancy discrimination is a type of sex discrimination against women. Both the trial court and the appeals court denied Young’s pregnancy discrimination claim.

The Supreme Court reached a different result, finding that Young could show pregnancy discrimination if she could demonstrate that the employer’s stated non-discriminatory reason for its action was actually a pretext for pregnancy discrimination. The Supreme Court did not make a decision concerning the problem of exactly how pregnant workers can show that their employer’s failure to accommodate them is a pretext for pregnancy discrimination.



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