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Young v. UPS

Supreme Court of the United States

December 3, 2014, Argued; March 25, 2015, Decided

No. 12-1226


 [*210]  Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes clear that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination applies to discrimination based on pregnancy. It also says that employers must treat “women affected by pregnancy . . . the same for all employment-related purposes . . . as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability [****9]  to work.” 42 U. S. C. §2000e(k). We must decide how this latter  [**1344]  provision applies in the context of an employer’s policy that accommodates many, but not all, workers with nonpregnancy-related disabilities.

In our view, the Act requires courts to consider the extent to which an employer’s policy treats pregnant workers less favorably than it treats nonpregnant workers similar in their ability or inability to work. And here—as in all cases in which an individual plaintiff seeks to show disparate treatment through indirect evidence—it requires courts to consider any legitimate, nondiscriminatory, nonpretextual justification for these differences in treatment. See McDonnell [*211]  Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U. S. 792, 802, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973). Ultimately the court must determine whether the nature of the employer’s policy and the way in which it burdens pregnant women shows that the employer has engaged in intentional discrimination. The Court of Appeals here affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer. Given our view of the law, we must vacate that court’s judgment.

 We begin with a summary of the facts. The petitioner, Peggy Young, worked as a part-time driver for the respondent, United Parcel Service (UPS). Her responsibilities included pickup and delivery of packages [****10]  that had arrived by air carrier the previous night. In 2006, after suffering several miscarriages, she became pregnant. Her doctor told her that she should not lift more than 20 pounds during the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy or more than 10 pounds thereafter. App. 580. UPS required drivers like Young to be able to lift parcels weighing up to 70 pounds (and up to 150 pounds with assistance). Id., at  [***288]  578. UPS told Young she could not work while under a lifting restriction. Young consequently stayed home without pay during most of the time she was pregnant and eventually lost her employee medical coverage.

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575 U.S. 206 *; 135 S. Ct. 1338 **; 191 L. Ed. 2d 279 ***; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 2121 ****; 83 U.S.L.W. 4196; 126 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 765; 98 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P45,276; 91 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 507; 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 155


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Subsequent History: On remand at, Remanded by Young v. UPS, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7695 (4th Cir., Apr. 28, 2015)


Young v. UPS, 784 F.3d 192 (4th Cir. Md., 2013)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.


accommodations, pregnancy, employees, pregnant, disabilities, pregnant woman, drivers, pregnancy discrimination, inability to work, certification, nonpregnant, lifting, same-treatment, reasons, discriminate, disparate treatment, courts, tasks, sex, treating, sex discrimination, childbirth, medical condition, policies, benefits, purposes, disfavoring, limitations, conditions, disparate impact

Labor & Employment Law, Disparate Treatment, Statutory Application, General Overview, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, Parental Rights & Pregnancy, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Civil Procedure, Judgments, Summary Judgment, Evidentiary Considerations, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Deference to Agency Statutory Interpretation, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness