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Young v. United Parcel Service: Did UPS commit discrimination?

As Lenora Lapidus, director of Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said it best, "pregnant women should never have to choose between their job and their pregnancy." As you may know, this was one of the very things that the addition of pregnancy discrimination to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was supposed to put an end to. But as the case of Young v. United Parcel Service illustrates, such a decision is still facing women across the nation, even though legislation has been in place since 1978 to prevent it.

Some of our California readers may be aware of the Young case, which is still before the U.S. Supreme Court and has been since December 2014. At the center of the case is a UPS driver who was forced to take unpaid leave during her pregnancy because UPS would not accommodate her lifting restrictions. She claims this was pregnancy discrimination, which is a claim two lower courts have already disagreed with. The case raises concerns about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and is seeking clarification on the issue from the country's highest court.

So did UPS violate the law and discriminate against one of its workers? As some explain, discrimination against pregnant workers depends heavily on the benchmark for comparison: are employers supposed to compare pregnant women to other employees or to those who have disabilities or other impairments? It's an answer to this question that businesses across the nation need in order to make sure that they are abiding by federal laws with their employees down the road.

As we explained in a January 22, 2015 post, a claim of pregnancy discrimination can arise when a worker feels that they have been discriminated or retaliated against because of their pregnancy. As this case shows, perceived mistreatment can lead to litigation. This is something we hope our California readers will address with the help of a skilled lawyer at their side in the event that they too are facing claims that they violated a worker's civil rights -- or better yet, before events go that far.

Sources:  U.S. News and World Report, "Supreme Court to Weigh In On Protections for Pregnant Workers," Tierney Sneed, Dec. 2, 2014

Scotusblog.com, "Young v. United Parcel Service," Accessed March 4, 2015

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