Supreme Court Agrees to Consider Pregnancy Accommodation Obligation


On July 1, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of a case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes North and South Carolina) that may resolve a circuit split with regard to employers’ obligations to provide accommodations to employees with pregnancy-related work restrictions. In Young v. UPS, the Fourth Circuit concluded that employers do not have to accommodate pregnancy restrictions even if they provide similar light duty work to employees injured on the job, or to those with ADA disabilities. The Fourth Circuit concluded that the UPS policy was compliant with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act because it did not offer accommodations to non-pregnant employees with medical restrictions outside of the enumerated criteria.

The plaintiffs contend that the plain language of the PDA requires employers to provide the same accommodations to pregnant workers that they provide to any other non-pregnant employee regardless of the reasons. UPS claims that this would elevate pregnant employees to a preferred position inconsistent with the terms of the law. This case involved facts that occurred prior to adoption of the ADA Amendments Act. The Solicitor General requested that the Court not review this issue because of the expansion of the definition of disabled persons provided by ADAAA. This expansion could result in employers reconsidering their obligation to provide accommodations to employees on pregnancy-related work restrictions.

Oral arguments on the case will be scheduled for the Fall, with a decision not anticipated until 2015.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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