UPS driver’s pregnancy-bias case to get SCOTUS review

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the United Parcel Service violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it refused to give a pregnant driver light duty to accommodate her heavy-lifting restrictions.

The court granted cert on Tuesday in the case of Peggy Young, who says she was treated worse than other workers who were temporarily unable to do their jobs, report the Washington Post, the National Law Journal, SCOTUSblog and Bloomberg BNA. UPS gave light duty to workers injured on the job, who were disabled as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act, or who had lost their driver certification.

The cert petition (PDF) cites the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes … as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.”

Young was a driver whose essential functions included lifting packages as heavy as 70 pounds when she became pregnant in 2006, according to UPS. The company maintains its collective bargaining agreement treats pregnant workers the same as others with off-the-job injuries or conditions. Unless those workers qualify as disabled under the ADA, they don’t get light duty, UPS argues. A change to that policy would disrupt the seniority system, the company says in its brief (PDF) opposing cert.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. had opposed cert, arguing that the ADA Amendments Act that took effect in 2009 could lead courts to reconsider their approach in pregnancy bias cases, according to the Bloomberg BNA coverage. He also said the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is working on new guidance on pregnancy issues under the PDA and the amended ADA.

The case is Young v. United Parcel Service.

By Debra Cassens Weiss   ABAJournal