Potential Conflict In Accommodating Pregnant Employees

By: Shelly R. Pagac , Jennifer R. Russell

On July 1, 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., a case brought by a former UPS delivery driver who claims UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) contained in Title VII, when it improperly denied her request for light duty work because of a recommended lifting restriction during her pregnancy.  Young was not given the same accommodation as non-pregnant employees with similar limitations, in that UPS offered light duty only to employees with on-the-job injuries, employees with permanent impairments entitled to accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and employees who lost Department of Transportation certification to drive commercial vehicles.  Pregnant employees (women) were deemed ineligible for light duty work for any limitations arising solely as a result of their pregnancy.

On July 14, 2014, only 13 days after the Court agreed to hear Young’s appeal, the EEOC issued its Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues.  The EEOC sets forth a comprehensive list of questions and answers regarding pregnancy and provides a list of recommended best practices in terms of hiring and other employment decisions.  Most notably, the guidance addresses employers’ duties under the PDA and ADA and provides that employers are to provide reasonable accommodations, and specifically light duty, to pregnant employees with work restrictions, even if the employee does not qualify as an individual with a disability under the ADA.

The guidance discusses matters that relate directly to the facts and issues to be examined and decided by the Supreme Court in Young v. UPS.  However, the guidance does not have the force of law and the Supreme Court’s decision in Young could directly contradict the EEOC guidance.  If this occurs, the EEOC will face vociferous criticism.  This potential for conflict creates some uncertainty for employers regarding their obligations.  In the interim, however, employers should use caution and consider the EEOC’s guidance in making decisions with respect to employees who are covered by the PDA and ADA.  Employers should also consider any state or local laws that offer protection from pregnancy discrimination, such as those recently passed in Maryland, New Jersey, West Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

News & Events

Related News

September 19, 2019

On November 19-20, 2019, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute will host it’s Employment Law Institute West in Pittsburgh, PA. Pietragallo Partner, and Employment & Labor Group Leader, Shelly R Pagac, will be serving as faculty. The Institute is a two-day, premier employment law event in Western Pennsylvania and is organized every year by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute,… Read more »

Read More
November 26, 2011

Articles In This Issue: 1. America Invents Act Provides Sweeping Patent Reform 2. Class Actions Limited: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Betty Dukes, Et Al., The Supreme Court Steps In to Rein In Class Action Litigation 3. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: Can Your Company Survive The Wave? Related Information: Firm Newsletter, Winter 2011

Read More

Upcoming Events

February 27, 2020

Nationally-recognized qui tam attorney, Marc S. Raspanti, will be speaking at the Federal Bar Association’s 2020 Qui Tam Conference in Washington, DC on Thursday, February 27, 2020. This two-day conference will feature experienced FCA litigators from a variety of perspectives who will dive into advanced topics and discuss emerging trends and key developments pertaining to… Read more »

Read More
March 11, 2020

Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP Partner Michael A. Morse will be presenting at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s (“PBI”) Health Law Institute on March 11-12, 2020. Mr. Morse’s session topic is, “Preparing for the Fight of Your Life: Anatomy of a Health Care Fraud Prosecution.” The PBI notes that the Health Law Institute is,… Read more »

Read More
View More News & Events