The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. is an important decision under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The Young decision will be important to employers and to pregnant women who request workplace accommodation from their employers. Retired Superior Court Judge Eugene Hyman explains the Young case and what it will mean.
The claim was brought by former UPS driver Peggy Young who requested lighter duty after she became pregnant and her doctor limited her lifting to 20 pounds (the UPS standard is up to 70 pounds). Judge Hyman points out that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed by Congress to overcome an earlier Supreme Court ruling. The holding of the Young case is basically that an employer must accommodate a pregnant worker with a disability just as they accommodate other workers with disabilities.
The effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling is that Young will now be able to proceed with her claim. The district court had granted summary judgment against Young, and the court of appeals affirmed the ruling. Judge Hyman points out that, if UPS has a program to accommodate drivers who, for example, injure their backs and can’t lift 70 pounds, the company will have to offer similar accommodations to pregnant women who also have lifting restrictions.
Judge Hyman also notes that the jobs with lesser physical requirements often pay less than the delivery driver positions, so there could be an issue as to wages. But whatever is done, the company will have to be consistent. There is a union contract involved in the UPS situation, and that may come into play. An employer in a case like this will have to treat pregnant women as fairly as they treat disabled employees covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.