Legal Momentum Asks the Supreme Court to Vindicate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in Young v. UPS

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Today, Legal Momentum teamed up with top law professors and women’s rights groups to file a “friend of the court” brief supporting a pregnant truck driver in an important case in the United States Supreme Court, explaining that women in traditionally male-dominated occupations are especially susceptible to pregnancy discrimination on the job. (In fact, we and our coauthors filed the only friend of the court brief urging the Supreme Court to hear this case in the first place.) We argue that when United Parcel Service, Inc. denied Peggy Young’s request for “light duty” assignments while she was pregnant, it violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), which requires employers to treat their pregnant employees the same as their other employees. We were joined by our coauthors Joanna L. Grossman, Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Family Law at Hofstra Law School, Deborah L. Brake, Professor of Law and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law; 27 law professors; and five women’s and civil rights organizations. When the Supreme Court hears this case in its next term, it will either re-establish that the PDA means what it says—or gut the law entirely.

The lower courts that heard this case decided to gut the PDA. They ruled that UPS could provide “light duty” accommodations to their employees in many other circumstances, such as when an employee has their driver’s license revoked due to a DWI conviction, or when an employee is injured while working, but still refuse to do the same for pregnant workers who need the same help. The government’s top attorney agreed with us that “a majority of the courts of appeals (including the court of appeals in this case) to have considered claims similar” to Peggy Young’s, and who denied them, were wrong.  

On July 1st, 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, making it possible that the PDA will be vindicated. We can only hope the Supreme Court will understand just how devastating it would be if it sides with UPS and other employers against pregnant women.