Supreme Court Update

Supreme Court Decides Pregnancy Discrimination and Accommodation Case

Mar 31, 2015

On March 25, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Young v. UPS, remanding the case back to the lower court for final determination.

In its decision, the Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to accommodate pregnant women when they provide an accommodation to any other nonpregnant employee who is similar in ability to work.

The Court also rejected the EEOC’s guidance issued in July 2014, ruling that the Court “cannot rely significantly on the EEOC’s determination” for several reasons including that the guidance was issued after certiorari was granted, that it takes a position on which previous EEOC guidelines were silent, and that it is inconsistent with positions long advocated by the government without explanation for the basis of the change. Instead the Court ruled that the issue should be decided the same way other disparate treatment cases are determined— by using the existing McDonnell Douglas test in which the burden shifts to employers to show a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employment action.

It is important to recognize that the Young case began before passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments, which expanded the definition of “disability,” qualifying more employees for accommodations that will impact pregnancy cases going forward. In addition, the law in this area continues to evolve with the possibility of Congress pursuing legislation to clarify accommodation requirements for pregnant women.

SHRM’s amicus brief is available HERE.


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