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Supreme Court to Hear Pregnancy Work Discrimination Case

The Short of It

Today, the Supreme Court will hear a case about whether employers must make workplace accommodations during a woman's pregnancy.

The Lowdown

Peggy Young found out she was pregnant after working at UPS for a decade. She asked the company to make accommodations for her, namely that she only be asked to lift packages lighter than 20 pounds. UPS sent her on unpaid leave for the remaining six months of her pregnancy.

Young lost her benefits, her pension, and ultimately, left her job. Now, more than seven years later, she is bringing her case before the Supreme Court, having sued UPS under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Young, now mom-of-three, says employers should make workplace accommodations during a woman's pregnancy, just as they do for disabled employees. UPS says being pregnant is not a disability. Young's lawyer also claims that the freight company has made accommodations for other employees whose circumstances change on the job. One such example? People who lose their driver's licenses after drunk driving convictions.

And so, the stage is set for a court battle.

Meanwhile, Young admits she feels somewhat uncomfortable being thrust into the public spotlight. But as a mom of daughters, she says she must move forward with her lawsuit. She said her daughters shouldn't have to choose between motherhood and supporting a family.

"I don't ever want them to experience what I did. We need to fix this. For them, and for all women," she said.

The Upshot

Clearly, the Supreme Court's decision will have far-reaching effects on pregnant workers across the country. Women make up nearly half of the American workforce, and most women work late into their pregnancies.

For the time being, UPS plans to offer light duty to pregnant women starting next year.

"The new policy will strengthen UPS's commitment to treating all workers fairly and supporting women in the workplace," said a spokesperson for the company.

It's also worth noting that lower courts sided with UPS, but that the Obama administration has come out in support of Peggy Young. Stay tuned to find out how the court decides.

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