The Issue Of Accommodating Pregnant Employees May Reach The Supreme Court

by Franczek Radelet P.C.

Signaling that it is considering taking up the issue of what accommodations employers must provide for pregnant employees, the Supreme Court last month requested the Solicitor General’s opinion as to whether to accept the case of Young v. UPS for next year’s term.

The plaintiff in that case is Peggy Young, a delivery driver for UPS. Young took a leave of absence to undergo in vitro fertilization treatments; the treatments were successful, and Young became pregnant. She expressed interest in returning to work but, due to a lifting restriction imposed by her physician, was unable to return to her previous position as a delivery driver during her pregnancy. Instead, Young requested a temporary light duty assignment. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement with Young’s union, UPS provided temporary modified work assignments only in specific situations. UPS offered light duty assignments to employees who were injured on the job, who were suffering from a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or to drivers who lost their Department of Transportation certification due to, among other things, failed medical exams. As pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the ADA, under UPS’s policy and the CBA Young was ineligible for light duty work based on limitations arising solely as result of her pregnancy.

Young went on an extended, unpaid leave of absence. She brought suit against UPS, claiming that its policy of providing light duty work to some employees but not to pregnant workers like herself violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. (The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to clarify that discrimination “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” was considered sex discrimination under Title VII.) Specifically, Young argued that UPS’s policy violated the PDA’s requirement that employers treat pregnant employees the same “as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.”

Both the trial court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of UPS. As the Fourth Circuit explained, Young’s discrimination claim failed because UPS’s policy was pregnancy-neutral and gender-neutral; that is, UPS did not deny Young’s request for light duty because of her pregnancy or gender. Moreover, as the Fourth Circuit noted, under UPS’s policy, employees who suffered other types of off-the-job injuries—for instance, an employee “who injured his back while picking up his infant child or on an employee whose lifting limitation arose from her off-the-job work as a volunteer firefighter”—would be ineligible for temporary accommodations. To find that UPS was required to accommodate a pregnant employee but not employees with other off-the-job injuries would be to give the pregnant employee preferential treatment, which the PDA does not require.

The Solicitor General has yet to weigh in, and it remains uncertain whether the Supreme Court will ultimately consider Young’s case. Regardless, however, the Supreme Court’s interest in the case is notable for employers—it is one of many recent signs that discrimination claims by pregnant employees may be on the rise. The EEOC has recently made clear that the pursuit of such claims is one of its top priorities for the near future, and plaintiffs’ attorneys have surely taken note. In addition, we have recently seen laws passed—in Maryland and New York City—which go beyond the PDA in requiring employers to provide accommodations to pregnant employees. In light of these trends, employers are advised to evaluate their accommodations policies and their effects on pregnant employees. Although the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Young is helpful for employers, that decision may not stand, and reliance on a policy that is technically “pregnancy blind” may not, in itself, be enough to protect an employer from a pregnancy-related sex discrimination claim.

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.

© Franczek Radelet P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Franczek Radelet P.C.

Franczek Radelet P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.