Does the(PDA) require employers to accommodate expectant mothers in the same way they must accommodate disabled workers? That was the question before the U.S. Supreme Court when it heard oral arguments Dec. 3 in Young v. UPS, a closely watched case that could affect workplaces nationwide.
When Peggy Young, a Maryland UPS driver, became pregnant in 2006, her doctor restricted her from lifting more than 20 pounds. She asked for a light-duty assignment, but UPS denied her request. Reason: Under UPS policy at the time, light duty was only available to employees who had been injured on the job. UPS placed Young on unpaid leave, and she lost her health coverage.
She filed an EEOC complaint and in 2008 sued UPS for violating the PDA. UPS won at the district and appeals court levels. In July 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Young’s appeal.
Before the High Court, Young’s attorneys argued that UPS violated the PDA’s requirement that pregnant workers “shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes” as compared to other employees with “a similar ability or inability to work.” UPS argued its policy did treat workers equally—no one who was disabled because of something that happened off the job was eligible for light-duty assignments.
Expect a decision by June.
Note: In July, the EEOC issued guidance stating its view that the ADA Amendments Act requires employers to treat pregnant employees at least as well as other disabled employers—for example, by offering light-duty work. In October, UPS changed its policy to allow light duty for pregnant workers.