Executive Summaries » Supreme Court Leaves Pregnancy Discrimination Claim Unresolved

Supreme Court Leaves Pregnancy Discrimination Claim Unresolved

June 24, 2015

In March 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its first pregnancy discrimination decision since 1991. The issue was an employer’s obligation to accommodate pregnant employees under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Court has already held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “prohibits an employer from discriminating against a woman because of her capacity to become pregnant.”`

Peggy Young, a driver for UPS, developed a pregnancy-related condition, and requested that she be able to perform “light duty” instead of her normal responsibilities. Her request was denied under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated with Young’s union, which provided that light duty was available only to employees injured on the job, and others accommodated under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. Young did not fall under either category.

Young claimed UPS violated the law by failing to provide her the same accommodations as employees with similar limitations. The lower court denied Young’s claims and found in favor of UPS because it policy was based on “gender-neutral,” “pregnancy-blind” criteria. The Supreme Court found that there was not enough evidence to make an informed determination. The lower court’s decision was thrown out and sent back for further analysis consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretation.

Notwithstanding the waiting game created by the Supreme Court, education, training and clearly worded policies which comply with the PDA and ADA should be developed and enforced now.

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