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Supreme Court to Rule on Protections for Pregnant Employees
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UPS, pregnancy, Supreme Court

Summary: A case against UPS from an employee has reached the Supreme Court as Peggy Young battles to gain protections for pregnant workers. 

Peggy Young is an employee of the United Parcel Service who was placed on unpaid leave when she became pregnant back in 2006, according to U.S. News & World Report.


On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear Young’s case against the policy at UPS about unpaid leave during pregnancy.

UPS has been sided with by a district judge and an appeals court in this case, but the supporters for Young hope the Supreme Court will issue a different ruling.

To read more about UPS, click here.

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“The case is very significant because pregnant women should never have to choose between their job and their pregnancy, and here that is exactly what UPS forced Peggy Young to do,” said Lenora Lapidus, director of Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Clarke Forsythe is senior counsel for Americans United for Life. Forsythe said, “Not enough has been done to respect the choice of life.”

The case is centered around the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which was passed by Congress when the Supreme Court issued a ruling that pregnant women were not guaranteed special protections under laws that prohibit sexual discrimination.

At UPS, Young was employed as an “air driver,” which required her to lift packages weighing as much as 70 pounds. Young claimed she rarely had to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds while on the job.

To read more about the ACLU, click here.

When she told a supervisor that she was not allowed to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds during her pregnancy, she was told that she could no longer work as an “air driver.” She was also told she did not qualify for light duty work, which includes clerical work.

Young was placed on unpaid leave until her pregnancy ended, which caused her to lose her medical benefits.

UPS has provided light duty work to employees who have been injured on the job, who have impairments covered under the American Disabilities Act and employees who have been deemed unable to drive.

UPS argued that it has not accommodated all of its employees with light duty, especially those who have been injured off the job, which is why they did not feel compelled to give it to pregnant women.

The chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino, said, “The question comes down to, who is your comparison? It’s clear from the structure of the statute and the intent of the legislation that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was not intended to keep pregnant women at the floor of the accommodations a company is willing to give.”

To read more stories about the Supreme Court, click here.

The ruling from the Fourth Circuit panel said, “By limiting accommodations to those employees injured on the job, disabled as defined under the ADA and stripped of their DOT certification, UPS has crafted a pregnancy-blind policy.”

UPS announced in October that it would change its policy so pregnant women can be placed on light duty, but it still intends to defend the prior policy in court.

UPS spokeswoman Kara Ross said, “We did not choose to bring this case to the Supreme Court, Peggy Young did, and we will continue to argue our position.”

“UPS is actually ahead of many companies and government agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service, in changing its policy to accommodate pregnant workers with special work assignments,” Ross said.

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Image credit: U.S. News


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