The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case (Young v. UPS, 12-1226) that has the potential to affect how pregnant workers are accommodated in the workplace.
The case involves popular package and parcel shipping company, UPS, and a female employee who had been working as a driver in Landover, Maryland. After becoming pregnant in 2006, the employee submitted a doctor’s note backing her request for a temporary assignment to avoid lifting heavy packages.
UPS declined to accommodate the employee and doctor’s request, reiterating its policy that drivers must be able to lift packages weighing up to 70 pounds.
Unable to comply with the company’s policy, she left work and returned two months after having delivered her baby. During this two month period, consequently, the employee lost her health insurance, and couldn’t collect unemployment because she wasn’t fired.
Specifically, the question that the Supreme Court will address is whether UPS was required to accommodate its pregnant employee since it gave temporary assignments to other workers, including those who were injured on the job or had a condition that was covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, if a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee.
UPS contends that it treated the worker just as it treated other employees who were limited in their ability to lift as a result of events that took place off the job.
Conversely, the employee contends that that non-pregnant workers with temporary disabilities were treated more favorably than pregnant workers.
While the Court grapples with the issue, UPS has stated that it will voluntarily offer pregnant women light duty starting in January. However, the company contends it complied with the law in the case at issue.
A decision in the case, Young v. UPS, 12-1226, is expected by late June.
If you or a loved one have been the subject of discrimination in the workplace, or have been denied pregnancy rights, contact an experienced employment attorney to review your legal rights and remedies.