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Supreme Court Resurrects Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Against UPS

The Short of It

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court has allowed Peggy Young to resurrect a lawsuit against UPS for pregnancy discrimination.

The Lowdown

As we told you in December, when Young was pregnant and working for UPS seven years ago, her doctor advised her not to lift anything over 20 pounds. But when she asked her employer if she could stick to lighter lifting, they put her on unpaid leave, saying drivers with her job description needed to be able to lift up to 70 pounds. Young ultimately left her job and lost her pension and benefits.

Young took UPS to court, citing pregnancy discrimination, and after losing in several smaller courts, her case was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) this week.

The issue is with the definition of pregnancy discrimination. Young says she was discriminated against because of temporary physical limitations due to her pregnancy. UPS says the law clearly stated that pregnancy couldn't be called a disability and that they only acted accordingly.

Young says coworkers who'd had their licenses revoked because of DUIs were temporarily reassigned, while she was denied reassignment. Now, in their newly announced decision, the SCOTUS says Young may continue her case with UPS if she can provide evidence to show the discrimination was intentional.

The Upshot

While it still remains to be seen if Young will win her case, the SCOTUS decision may pave the way for other women to receive accommodations at work while they're expecting.

"This ruling is a gain for women across the country. It furthers the purpose of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed more than 35 years ago with the goal of putting women on an equal footing and ensuring that they can't be fired or forced onto leave when they become pregnant," Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, wrote in a statement. "Today's Supreme Court decision is an important victory... because it makes clear that employers can't continue pushing pregnant workers out of their jobs while providing accommodations for other, non-pregnant workers. Nonetheless, Congress should pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which will further enshrine the principle that pregnant workers should not have to choose between their jobs and a healthy pregnancy."

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