Young v. UPS

Posted: March 15, 2015 by beguide in case summaries, employment discrimination


WHAT HAPPENED: Young is a female employee of UPS seeking work accommodations due to her pregnancy. UPS is a multinational parcel corporation that for some reason does not want to give pregnant women the same light schedule it gives to other employees who suffer injuries more associated with the job.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT: Discrimination in the work place often turns on the employer’s duty to provide reasonable accommodations to its employees. Whether it is for disability, age, religion, or other issues affecting employment, employers customarily have a duty to accommodate current and potential employees instead of denying them the opportunities outright. Young sued UPS for failing to provide her with the same reasonable accommodations it gave to other employees. UPS claims that pregnant women are not entitled to the same “light duty” reserved to injured employees since pregnancy is not an injury, nor is it considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS DECISION: Pregnancy Discrimination is a complicated area of law because pregnancy is more common, predictive and welcome than most injuries that employers deal with under employment discrimination statutes. For employees, a victory for Young would give greater rights to pregnant women who work in physical jobs, but would force many companies to change their policies regarding how they handle pregnant employees. On the other side, a decision in favor of UPS could give pregnant women less protection than they already have.

WHAT WAS THE RULING: The case was ruled 6-3 in favor of Young. The majority opinion was written by Justice Breyer, who stated that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevented employers from treating pregnant employees different than other employees who were injured at work. The decision was careful not to put pregnancy claims at the forefront of discrimination law, but did state that even at it’s most basic interpretation it required that pregnant woman receive the same accommodations that other employees received. Scalia and Kennedy both wrote dissents, with Kennedy arguing that the discrimination test was applied incorrectly, while Scalia interpreted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as having little to no effect on practical discrimination.

THE GOOD GUYS WON IF: you support equal treatment in the workplace, even if it is excess of the specific parameters of discrimination statutes.

THE BAD GUYS WON IF: you a man who is OK with being repulsive to women.

WHO WAS RIGHT: Nazim nailed this one on the head, from the decision to the scope of how the Court interpreted the law. Brett thought that the Court would rule against Young in order to preserve the status of the law; which was wrong on both accounts.

  1. […] the primary cases discussed involve why Virginia Military Academy could not exclude women, and then UPS v. Young, which deals with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Libsyn […]


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