Pregnant UPS Worker's Case Divides Supreme Court

Workplace equality ruling rests on ambiguous federal law
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2014 4:38 PM CST
Pregnant UPS Worker's Case Divides Supreme Court
Peggy Young carries a bouquet of flowers as she leaves the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Peggy Young requested that she be put on lighter duty when, as a UPS driver, she became pregnant in 2006 and was told by her doctor not to lift heavy packages. That request was denied—forcing Young to take unpaid leave—based on a vague law stating employers must treat pregnant women as they would "other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work." That line is now the focus of a Supreme Court case that could have major implications for workplace equality, the Guardian reports. UPS, which Young sued under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, says it acted lawfully by accommodating only workers with on-the-job injuries, but not those who were pregnant or had been injured off the job, the New York Times reports.

The US government supports Young's case, but justices appear to be divided. Ruth Bader Ginsburg grilled a UPS lawyer yesterday, asking for an example of any UPS worker other than a pregnant one being denied a lifting dispensation, while Elena Kagan said the law was intended to ensure pregnant women "wouldn't be unfairly excluded from the workplace." But Antonin Scalia and Stephen G. Breyer seemed to favor UPS' argument, "on the grounds that ignoring its usual test of whether the impairment was caused in the workplace would unfairly elevate the status of pregnant workers over others—and would conceivably entitle them to all manner of additional benefits," writes the Guardian. The AP reports the court may look to meet in the middle; a decision is expected next year. (More UPS stories.)

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