The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case Young v. United Parcel Service, in which Peggy Young, a former driver for the package delivery company, is suing the United Parcel Service for refusing to offer her light duty when she was pregnant.
Young is claiming that UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 by refusing to temporarily change her duties after a doctor suggested she not lift heavy packages. Young says that by not letting her have light duty instead of driving for a few months, she was forced to take unpaid leave.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 requires employers to treat pregnant women the same as “other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” It also states that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.”
The United Parcel Service, which has agreed to start offering light duty to pregnant employees beginning in January, defended its refusal, saying the company complied with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Young says that the company should have honored her request to be on light duty for a few months, and that by not doing so UPS violated the act.
UPS accommodates other workers, but has not made accommodations for pregnant women. The company has made accommodations for workers injured on the job and even drivers who lost their driving license because of a conviction of driving while intoxicated.
Meanwhile, federal jurors in San Diego awarded almost $186 million to a former female AutoZone manager who sued AutoZone for wrongful termination and pregnancy and gender discrimination. The former employee, Rosario Juarez claimed that when she was pregnant, her employer told her pregnant women cannot handle the job. She was also demoted after she gave birth. The verdict is believed to be the largest awarded to an individual in an employment case.