Pregnancy Discrimination Case to be argued before U.S. Supreme Court

December 3, 2014

CONTACT: Crystal Cooper, ACLU National, 212-549-2666, ccooper@aclu.org

Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, 443-310-9946, curtis@aclu-md.org

 

WASHINGTON - The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Young v. UPS, a pregnancy discrimination case brought by Peggy Young, a woman forced off of her job at a UPS facility in Maryland while pregnant. 

 

The ACLU and the ACLU of Maryland supported Peggy Young by filing friend-of-the-court brief in her case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2012, and did the same when the case reached  the U.S. Supreme Court. 

 

The ACLU's Supreme Court brief argues that while Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 to end widespread practices of discrimination against women, paternalistic assumptions and outdated stereotypes about pregnant women continue to be used to justify sex discrimination, undermining Congress's intention in passing the law. 

 

"Employers and courts nationwide still aren't getting the message that the same temporary accommodations provided to injured workers must be provided to pregnant workers," said Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "The Supreme Court must make it clear that this type of discrimination is unlawful and that no woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy."

 

When Young's doctors recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds during pregnancy, she requested a light duty assignment that would be made available to workers temporarily unable to perform their regular tasks because of on-the-job injuries, disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or loss of their commercial drivers' licenses. Instead of making reasonable accommodations, UPS put Young on unpaid leave with no medical coverage, just when she needed it most to prepare for the cost of having a baby. The ACLU has long fought back against these discriminatory practices in the courts and in the legislatures. 

 

"Women should not have to go to court, much less all the way to the Supreme Court, to fight for their basic right to work and earn a living without putting their pregnancies at risk," said Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland. "Thankfully, Maryland is one of a number of states have taken action, passing Pregnant Worker Fairness laws to clarify that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers."

 

In 2013, the ACLU took a lead role in helping to pass state legislation in Maryland protecting pregnant workers from discrimination after the Fourth Circuit ruled against Young in her legal challenge. The new law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with conditions resulting from pregnancy.  Similar laws passed in other states this past year, including NJ, IL, WV, MN, DE, and New York City. 

 

More information about the ACLU's pregnancy discrimination work is available at:
https://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/pregnancy 

 

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