Below is a summary of the court’s ruling:
Factual and Procedural Background.
Young was a part-time driver for UPS. When she became pregnant, her doctor advised her that she should not lift more than 20 pounds. UPS, however, required drivers like Young to be able to lift up to 70 pounds. UPS told Young that she could not work while under a lifting restriction. Young subsequently filed a lawsuit under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (the “Act”), claiming that UPS acted unlawfully in refusing to accommodate her pregnancy-related lifting restriction. She brought only a disparate-treatment (intentional) claim of discrimination, which a plaintiff can prove either by direct evidence that a workplace policy, practice, or decision relies expressly on a protected characteristic, or by using the burden-shifting framework set forth in the case of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. Under the McDonnell Douglas framework, the plaintiff has “the initial burden” of “establishing a prima facie case” of discrimination. If she carries her burden, the employer must have an opportunity “to articulate some legitimate, non-discriminatory reason[s] for” the difference in treatment. If the employer articulates such reasons, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff who has “an opportunity to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the reasons . . . were a pretext for discrimination.” (cites omitted)
UPS filed a summary judgment motion in the District Court. In reply, Young presented several favorable facts that she believed she could prove. In particular, she pointed to UPS policies that accommodated workers who had lifting restrictions similar to hers because they were either injured on the job or had disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). UPS policies also accommodated employees who couldn’t drive at all because they had lost Department of Transportation (DOT) certifications. Young argued that these policies showed that UPS discriminated against its pregnant employees because it had a light-duty-for-injury policy for numerous “other persons,” but not for pregnant workers. UPS responded that, since Young did not fall within the on-the-job injury, ADA, or DOT categories, it had not discriminated against Young on the basis of pregnancy, but had treated her just as it treated all “other relevant persons.”
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision in Young v. UPS