UPS Worker Claims Employer Discrimination After Being Let Go Due to Pregnancy
A woman’s employer discrimination lawsuit has made it all the way to the Supreme Court, challenging the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that pregnancy did not entitle women to special treatment with their employers, unlike temporary disability. Employees may remain on payroll although they cannot work if they are deemed to have a temporary disability. The Supreme Court’s ruling stated that employers who do not make special provision for pregnant employees are not discriminating based on gender. Then, Congress overruled the Supreme Court’s ruling by passing the 1978 Act.
The current employer discrimination case was brought forward by Peggy Young, who had worked for the United Parcel Service in Annapolis, MD for four years when she became pregnant. UPS requested that Young contact the company’s nurse, who then asked Young to get a note from her doctor. Young explained to her doctor that her job was an early morning route at the airport, which rarely required more lifting than envelopes and small packages. Her doctor thought that UPS’s request was “odd,” but wrote her a note anyway explaining that as the pregnancy progressed, she should not lift more than 20 pounds – which was unlikely for Young’s route.
“When I took the note to the nurse, she basically said, ‘Well, we don’t give alternative work or light duty to off-work incidents.’ I’m like, ‘I’m pregnant, there’s not an incident here, and I can do my regular job.’ They would not allow me to,” says Young.
“Many nights I didn’t sleep so well.” She adds that it was “very disturbing that I couldn’t work when I wanted to work. … They coded me in their system as disabled, but I didn’t qualify for disability because I could work. … I’m a normal person, I was just pregnant. Pregnancy is not a disability. Pregnancy is not a handicap. It’s none of that.”
Young sued UPS for employer discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. UPS fought the employer discrimination lawsuit, stating that the company treated Young as it would treat other employees of the company, who is limited in their ability to lift heavy packages as a result of events that took place off the job – therefore, temporary disability for which the company was not liable. UPS’s policy for all drivers is that they are able to lift up to 70 lbs.
However, UPS has admitted that, with workers injured on the job, the company will put the employee on “light duty,” until the temporary disability has healed. The company refused to do so with Young.
The Strom Law Firm Represents Victims of Employer Discrimination
The Strom Law Firm represents individuals whose rights have been violated or discriminated against in the workplace as employees.
South Carolina is an at-will employment state, meaning that you have the right to quit your job at any time for any reason or no reason at all; likewise, your employer can hire or fire you for any reason or no reason at all.
However, an employer cannot fire you for any reason that:
- is illegal or protected under State or Federal law,
- violates the express terms of an implied or express contractual agreement, or
- violates public policy.
The employment attorneys at the Strom Law Firm represent South Carolina employees in employment matters including:
- wage and hour issues, including being forced to work off of the clock
- covenants not to compete and restrictive covenants,
- employment agreements,
- discrimination/Title VII claims,
- whistleblower or qui tam actions, and
- violations of the South Carolina Wage Payment Act or failure to pay wages when due.
Unlawful discrimination, which is often tied to a constructive discharge claim, is difficult to prove. There are certain procedural steps that you must take to assert your claim, making it critical that you contact a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, how you were discriminated against, and whether the employee policies of the company provide you with support. 803.252.4800