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

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
May 26, 2009

Articles In This Issue: 1. What’s Happening To United States Patents? 2. The Legal And Practical Implications Of Doing Business In China 3. Subguard Insurance – A General Contractor’s Risk Management Option For Defaults By Subcontractors 4. Everything You Wanted To Know About Pennsylvania’s New Right-To-Know Law (But Were To Afraid To Ask) 5. The… Read more »

Read More

Upcoming Events

September 19, 2019

Joseph L. Gordon will be presenting “OSHA’s Ten Most Common Violations – An Insider’s Perspective on Easy Solutions to Overlooked Hazards” at The Pennsylvania State Council of SHRM’s 2019 State Conference in State College, PA. Joe will be a co-presenter with Nicholas DeJesse, an Assistant Regional Administrator with OSHA. For more information, including how to attend… Read more »

Read More
September 19, 2019

Marc Stephen Raspanti will be speaking at a False Claims Act Enforcement Roundtable on September 19, 2019 from 4:00-6:30pm in Miami, Florida. This event is being co-hosted by Pietragallo, Morgan Lewis, the Women’s White Collar Defense Association, and the American Bar Association’s Qui Tam Subcommittee for a False Claims Act/Qui Tam Roundtable, “Florida Style.” The discussion… Read more »

Read More
View More News & Events