A woman who was forced off the job after she became pregnant can keep fighting her old company in court, thanks to a Wednesday U.S. Supreme Court decision. Peggy Young, a former UPS driver, sued the company for refusing to accommodate her doctor’s recommendations for lighter duty when she became pregnant in 2006. Young eventually had to take unpaid leave from her job and lost her health insurance while she was unable to work. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is supposed to prevent employers from treating pregnant women unfairly, and Young had argued that UPS was required to accommodate her restrictions just as the company would accommodate a driver who was unable to lift packages thanks to an injury or accident. When Young filed her lawsuit, UPS argued that it had done nothing wrong and that “its collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters union didn't allow light-duty assignments for ‘off the job’ injuries,” which included pregnancy, according to company policy.
In her case, Young also said that one of her managers told her that she was “too much of a liability” while she was pregnant and could “not come back” until after she gave birth. While the ruling could help women facing discrimination in the future, Young’s fight isn’t over yet; today’s decision means that another court will have to hear her case, and UPS will have another opportunity to present its side. The company has already changed its policies to include work accommodations for pregnant women. Women make up 47% of the country's labor force, and more than 60% of women in the workforce keep working after having a child, according to 2012 Census data. With more and more women working jobs that require long hours and serious physical effort — from stocking shelves at Walmart to standing at a hotel front desk — this issue isn't going away.
Rights for pregnant women and mothers have been popular topics for both the White House and lawmakers. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro recently introduced a bill that would create paid family and medical leave for all wokers, and President Obama called for more protections for pregnant women and families last year.