Supreme Court Sends UPS Pregnancy Case Back for Retrial

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A pregnancy discrimination case filed against UPS by an ex-driver who wasn’t given lighter duty during her pregnancy has been sent back for possible re-trial by the Supreme Court.

The court ruled, 6-3, that lower courts improperly upheld findings in favor of UPS, which argued it did nothing wrong in refusing to let a pregnant Peggy Young do work that wouldn’t involve heavy lifting.

Young, formerly employed by a UPS center in Landover, Maryland, was required to load her truck and deliver packages. Her doctor told her not to lift anything over 20 pounds during her pregnancy but the job required her and other drivers to lift and carry as much as 70 pounds.

UPS refused to accommodate her, Young sued under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and lost. But the Supreme Court majority says lower courts should not have upheld the decision.

“In particular, she pointed to UPS policies that accommodated workers who were injured on the job, had disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), or had lost Department of Transportation (DOT) certifications,” the Supreme Court majority wrote in its opinion.

“UPS responded that, since Young did not fall within the on-the-job injury, ADA, or DOT categories, it had not discriminated against Young on the basis of pregnancy, but had treated her just as it treated all ‘other’ relevant ‘persons.’”

UPS has since changed its policy to include accommodations for pregnant employees.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. “There is no showing here of animus or hostility to pregnant women,” Kennedy writes in his dissent. But, he adds, “the difficulties pregnant women face in the workplace are and do remain an issue of national importance.”

IN-DEPTH:

-- Maggie Fox

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