The U.S. Supreme Court recently vacated the lower court’s decision that ruled in favor of United States Parcel Service in a pregnancy discrimination case. The plaintiff in this case, Peggy Young, sued UPS alleging that it discriminated against her under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”). Young was a driver for UPS. After she became pregnant, she informed the Company that she would not be able to lift packages of a certain weight, upon the direction of her physician. UPS, however, told her that she would not be able to work with a lifting restriction and as a result, she was placed on unpaid leave and lost her medical coverage. Young later filed suit under the PDA and argued that UPS refused to accommodate her pregnancy-related lifting restriction.
Young argued that by not giving her the same accommodations that the Company gave to others who requested light duty, such as those who were disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act, drivers who lost their driving certifications or those who were injured on the job, UPS violated the PDA by failing to treat pregnant women “the same…as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” In opposition, UPS argued that since not all employees were guaranteed accommodations under its policy, it was not discriminating specifically against pregnant women.
The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately rejected both lines of argument, but stated that Young may be able to prove that the denial of an accommodation constituted disparate treatment under the McDonnell Douglas framework. The Court held that, “Young created a genuine dispute as to whether UPS provided more favorable treatment to at least some employees whose situation cannot reasonably be distinguished from hers” and sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
The case is Peggy Young v. UPS, Inc., No. 12-1226.
This Firm will continue to monitor the developments in this case.