Former UPS driver at center of pregnancy discrimination case before Supreme Court

Peggy Young didn’t want to become a national icon for pregnant workers. She never imagined she would be at the center of a Supreme Court case that has united every major women’s rights organization on the left with major anti-abortion rights groups on the right.

A private woman, Peggy Young didn’t want all the world to know her most intimate business, including her two failed attempts at conceiving a child with her former husband before her pregancy in 2006 cost her her job delivering letters at United Parcel Service in Landover, Md.

All Peggy Young wanted, she says, was to drive.

But when her bosses at UPS told her to take unpaid leave until she was no longer pregnant, Young sued, saying the company violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and failed to treat a pregnant Young the way it treated other employees. She lost twice in courts in Maryland, which agreed with UPS that Young did not prove the company discriminated against her because of her pregnancy. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in her appeal of the closely watched case.

Young, one of the fewer than 10 percent of drivers in UPS’s Capital Division who are women, said in the suit that she delivered letters and rarely lifted anything heavier than envelopes. Further, she said that UPS had granted work accommodations to drivers with drunken driving convictions or who had been involved in accidents or taken off the road for disciplinary reasons.

The case, which has the potential to affect millions of women, exemplifies how much the workforce and mothers’ roles have changed in recent decades, and how far many workplaces lag behind.

The share of women who work during their first pregnancy has risen from 44 percent in the
early 1960s to 65 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The vast majority work into their last trimesters. In addition, they’re returning to work earlier.

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