Landmark Employment Discrimination Case Study


Employment discrimination is a pervasive issue that has plagued the workforce for decades. Despite laws and regulations in place to protect employees from discrimination, it still persists in various forms. Discrimination can occur based on race, gender, age, religion, disability, and other factors, leading to unequal treatment, harassment, and even termination of employment. In this blog post, we will explore a landmark employment discrimination case study, which set a precedent for addressing discrimination in the workplace.

Background of the case

Landmark Employment Discrimination Case Study

The case under scrutiny is Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service (UPS), a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that made waves in the legal and business world. Peggy Young, a UPS driver, filed a lawsuit against her employer for not accommodating her pregnancy-related restrictions. Young had informed her supervisors that she was pregnant and requested a lighter workload following her doctor’s orders. However, UPS refused to make accommodations and instead placed her on unpaid leave, causing financial strain on Young and her family. This case sparked a heated debate about discrimination against pregnant workers and brought to light issues with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

Parties involved

Landmark Employment Discrimination Case Study

The main parties involved in this case were Peggy Young, the plaintiff, and United Parcel Service (UPS), the defendant. Young was a long-time employee at UPS, working as a delivery driver since 1999. She became pregnant in 2006 and asked for light-duty work during her pregnancy due to her lifting restrictions. However, UPS refused to accommodate her request and placed her on unpaid leave. This resulted in Young losing her health benefits and receiving no pay for several months.

On the other hand, UPS argued that their policy only allowed light-duty work for employees injured on the job, those with disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or those who lost Department of Transportation (DOT) certifications. They claimed that Young did not fall under any of these categories and therefore, were not obligated to make accommodations for her.

Legal issues at stake

The main legal issue at stake in this case was whether UPS’s refusal to make accommodations for Peggy Young’s pregnancy-related restrictions violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The question before the Supreme Court was whether the PDA requires employers to accommodate pregnant workers if they provide light-duty work to other employees in similar situations, such as those injured on the job.

Another important legal issue at stake was whether UPS’s policy, which only provided accommodations for certain categories of workers, was discriminatory towards pregnant women. This raised questions about equal treatment and reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, as well as possible violations of the ADA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Court proceedings

Peggy Young initially filed a lawsuit against UPS in 2007 in federal court, claiming that their refusal to accommodate her pregnancy-related restrictions was a violation of the PDA. However, her case was dismissed on summary judgment by the District Court, stating that UPS’s actions were lawful. Young then appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, who also ruled in favor of UPS based on their interpretation of the PDA.

However, Young did not give up and took her case to the Supreme Court. In December 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to hear her case and oral arguments were presented in March 2015. Young’s attorney argued that UPS’s policy of not providing accommodations for pregnant workers was discriminatory and violated the PDA. On the other hand, UPS argued that their policy was nondiscriminatory and consistent with the requirements of the PDA.

Verdict and implications

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Peggy Young, stating that UPS’s refusal to make accommodations for her pregnancy-related restrictions did indeed violate the PDA. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, stating that employers must treat pregnant workers the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

The ruling had far-reaching implications, not just for UPS but for all employers across the country. It clarified that the PDA does not require employers to provide special treatment for pregnant workers, but it also prohibits discrimination against them. This meant that pregnant workers were entitled to the same accommodations and benefits as other employees with similar limitations. The ruling also emphasized the importance of equal treatment and reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, promoting a more inclusive and fair workplace.


The Young v. UPS case was a landmark employment discrimination case that shed light on the issue of discrimination against pregnant workers. It highlighted the flaws in existing laws and policies and set a precedent for addressing this issue in the future. While the verdict was a victory for Peggy Young and other pregnant workers, there is still much work to be done to ensure equal treatment and opportunities for all employees in the workforce. The case serves as a reminder to employers to review their policies and practices to avoid discriminatory actions and promote a more equitable workplace.