SCOTUS rules on pregnancy discrimination case

The Supreme Court essentially put together a new test to help guide pregnancy discrimination cases.

The Supreme Court of the United States, also known as SCOTUS, recently issued a decision on a case involving allegations of pregnancy discrimination. Federal law protects most pregnant employees from discriminatory practices under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, also known as PDA. Essentially, PDA makes it illegal to hire, refuse to promote, terminate or otherwise treat an employee unfavorably due to pregnancy or the birth of a child. This law generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

More on the case

The case, Young v. UPS, involves a woman who was working with the shipping company as a part-time delivery driver. The woman became pregnant and was told by her physician that she should refrain from lifting more than twenty pounds. The woman brought this information to her boss and made an official request for an accommodation. Her request was denied.

The woman challenged the denial, stating that the denial was unreasonable since other employees with medical conditions were able to receive the accommodation. She argued that since the company provided lifting restriction to employees with other medical conditions, it should also apply the same accommodation for all pregnant employees. Ultimately, the court found that since the company did not provide the accommodation to all employees with a medical condition that requested the lifting restriction; it did not have to apply it to all pregnant employees that made the request. Instead, the company must provide it to all who are "similar in their ability or inability to work."

Impact of the case

SCOTUS sent the case back to lower courts and provided a new test for those moving forward with PDA cases. Essentially, victims can establish a "prima facie" discrimination claim, or one that is considered true by the court unless the employer accused of discrimination can prove otherwise, when the victim can show that others with a similar inability to work were granted the accommodation.

This case is just one example of the evolving nature of employment law. As a result, those who believe they are the victim of a discriminatory practice in the workplace that resulted in termination, failure to receive a promotion or otherwise treated differently due to pregnancy, gender, age or race are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced employment discrimination attorney to better ensure your rights are protected. Remedies are available that can include recovery of lost wages and reinstatement to a previous position.

Keywords: pregnancy discrimination