Supreme Court Eases Burden for Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

March 26, 2015

The United States Supreme Court issued a decision that reshapes the standard for discrimination claims under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”). In Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., the Court held that even when an employer offers an apparently legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its actions against a pregnant employee, plaintiffs can overcome this reason and establish pretext, thus avoiding summary judgment, by providing sufficient evidence that the employer’s policies impose a “significant burden on pregnant workers,” and that the employer’s legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason is “not sufficiently strong to justify the burden.”  In the case, UPS refused to accommodate the plaintiff whose doctor placed her on a lifting restriction.  The company refused to give her a light duty  position and placed her on unpaid leave.   The plaintiff sued under the PDA which requires employers to treat “women affected by pregnancy” the same as “other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” The Court ultimately held that an employer must treat pregnant employees like “a large percentage of nonpregnant workers” who may have been offered accommodations, meaning if an employer grants an accommodation request, such as light duty, to a non-pregnant employee, it should grant the same request to a pregnant employee.  If you have any questions regarding pregnancy discrimination, please contact your Tampa Employment Lawyer, Darren D. McClain.

This post was written by Darren McClain