U.S. top court weighs pregnancy discrimination in UPS dispute

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2014 11:41 AM

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared unsure on Wednesday how to decide a case that could determine whether employers must provide accommodations for pregnant workers who may have physical limitations on the duties they can perform.

During a one-hour argument before the nine justices, two of the court's three women - Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan - showed most sympathy for former UPS Inc truck driver Peggy Young. But it was unclear how some of the other justices would vote in the closely watched case involving women's workplace rights.

The case concerns whether the package delivery company violated a federal law called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by denying Young her request for temporary changes in her work duties after she became pregnant in 2006. Young, who worked at a facility in Maryland, had acted on a midwife's advice that she not be required to lift packages weighing more than 20 pounds (9 kg).

Kagan said UPS's policy, which allowed non-pregnant workers to obtain light-duty assignments in other circumstances without giving the same accommodation for pregnancy, put "all pregnant women on one side of the line" by excluding them.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)