Pregnant UPS Worker Not Protected by ADA When Employer Prevented Her from Working with Physician-Mandated Lifting Restrictions

In 1999, Peggy Young began working for UPS, and in 2002, she started driving a delivery truck.  By 2006, Ms. Young was an “air driver” in Maryland, a position which required her to pick up and deliver packages that had arrived by air carrier the night before.

That same year, though, Ms. Young became pregnant.  She was then told by her doctor that, during the first twenty weeks of her pregnancy, she should not lift more than twenty pounds.  And that, thereafter, she should not lift more than ten.  Ms. Young informed her UPS occupational health manager of the restriction, but was told that UPS policy would not allow her to continue working under those conditions.  UPS required all employees to be able to lift seventy pounds.  Ms. Young explained that she almost never had to move such heavy packages—and that, if she was told to do so while pregnant, she would ask for help from other UPS employees.  But she was nevertheless required to go on extended unpaid leave during her pregnancy, and lost her employer-provided medical coverage as a result.

Ms. Young sued UPS in the summer of 2007, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).  The District Court, though, held against Ms. Young and, recently, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed.

According to the Court, UPS’s policies did not discriminate against Ms. Young in a way that brought her under the protections of either of these statutes.

“[W]e conclude,” the Circuit wrote, “that a pregnant worker subject to a temporary lifting restriction is not similar in her ‘ability or inability to work’ to an employee disabled within the meaning of the ADA…[and] adhere to the majority view that where a policy treats pregnant workers and nonpregnant workers alike, the employer has complied with the PDA.”

For more, see  And for the case itself, Young v. UPS, see