Pregnancy Discrimination Law Update

January 2013

In an important ruling for employers, the Fourth Circuit recently underscored that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) does not require employers to provide pregnant workers with special accommodations. Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No. 11-2078 (4th Cir. Jan. 9, 2013). When Peggy Young became unable to lift heavy packages due to her pregnancy, she asked UPS, her employer, to accommodate her by putting her on the light work duty that it offered to disabled workers and those injured on the job. Young filed suit after UPS refused.

Young and amicus supporters like the American Civil Liberties Union argued that, because UPS offered light duty work to certain nonpregnant workers, the PDA required it to extend the same treatment to pregnant workers. The Fourth Circuit found, however, that Young was treated the same as the general category of employees who were unable to lift as a result of an off-the-job injury or illness but were not disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Young Court found that Young was not entitled to protection under the ADA and emphasized that, where a policy treats pregnant employees and nonpregnant employees alike, the employer has complied with the PDA, even if the effect of the neutral policy is that the pregnant employee is prevented from continuing to work.

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