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SCOTUS sends Young v. United Parcel Service back to lower courts

Whether you're a business owner or an employee here in California, it's important to have at least a general understanding of business and employment law. That's because having a familiarity with the law can help you recognize situations in which a person or business may be violating the law.  More importantly, it will help prevent you or your business from violating the law.

As our more frequent readers here in Pasadena know, we try to give our readers information about business and employment law so that they can recognize important legal issues as they arise. We do this sometimes by presenting court cases that involve legal issues applicable to not only our readers, but residents across California. One such case was that of Young v. United Parcel Service, which we touched on in a March post.

For those who may not remember, the case concerned a pregnant delivery driver who claimed that UPS discriminated against her by not accommodating for her pregnancy and the lifting restrictions she had been given. The question asked by the case was not only if this qualified as discrimination but by what benchmark employers are supposed to make accommodations. At the end of last month, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the issue.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court's neither Young nor UPS had the right interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. As Justice Breyer explained in the opinion of the Court, Young's interpretation of the law holds that pregnant workers should be treated just like any other person when it comes to an inability to work, while UPS' interpretation questioned whether this was actually the intent of Congress when the law was enacted in 1978.

Although the Court agreed with UPS on this point, it also held that Young did have a genuine dispute over whether UPS gave favorable treatment to people with restrictions similar to those of pregnant women but did not extend that treatment to pregnant workers. It was in the Court's opinion that the judgment made by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals should be vacated and that the case be remanded to the lower courts for judgment.

The hope now is that the U.S. Supreme Court has given the lower courts the clarification they need to make a clear ruling on whether UPS is liable for pregnancy discrimination.  For the rest of us, the Court's guidance can help us better recognize when conduct is or is not workplace discrimination.

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