U.S. Supreme Court justices granted a woman who once worked as a driver for United Parcel Service another chance to seek legal retribution against the company for discriminating against her while she was pregnant in a 6-3 vote Wednesday that dismissed a lower court’s ruling in favor of UPS. In Young v. UPS, former employee Peggy Young sued UPS for damages after it refused to grant her request that she temporarily not be required to lift heavier packages after she became pregnant in 2006.
Instead, UPS forced her to take an unpaid leave of absence, and in doing so, Young claimed, violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. A lower court ruled in 2013 that under that act, UPS did not have to accommodate Young the way it would other employees who were temporarily incapacitated. With the Supreme Court’s decision, Young could win her case if she can prove that UPS generally refuses to accommodate the requests and needs of pregnant workers even as it is willing to meet the similar needs of nonpregnant workers, Reuters reported.
Following a midwife’s advice, Young had asked UPS that she not be required to lift any packages that weighed more than 20 pounds, and was denied. Part of her case hinges on whether or not UPS would grant a similar request to a worker who was injured or disabled but not pregnant, a point Justice Steven Breyer, writing for the majority, made when he asked, “Why, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant women as well?”
The Supreme Court decision was “an important victory for Peggy Young and for many other pregnant workers,” Lenora Lapidus, director of the women’s rights project for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
But U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the decision was still insufficient to protect all pregnant women, announcing shortly after the court's ruling that he would introduce an amendment to the proposed federal budget that would protect pregnant women from discrimination at work. “While the court’s decision is a victory for Peggy Young, it still leaves too much uncertainty for other pregnant workers, who still face significant challenges under today’s decision," Casey said in a statement.