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Fourth Circuit Holds Pregnant UPS Employee With Lifting Restrictions Was Not Covered Under ADA When Company Prevented Her From Working With Lifting Restriction

By on March 22, 2013 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

Peggy Young worked for United Parcel Services (UPS) as a delivery truck driver.  She became pregnant in 2006 and was given a restriction from her doctor indicating that she should not lift more than 20 pounds for the first 20 twenty weeks of her pregnancy and no more than 10 pounds thereafter.  Later her midwife reiterated the 20 pound lifting restriction.

The occupational health manager advised Young that UPS policy would not permit her to work with a 20-pound lifting restriction.  Young responded that she seldom lifted more than 20 pounds and that other employees would help her if needed.  The company said she had to be able to lift up to 70 pounds, but Young said that she never really had to lift that much weight.  She also requested light duty but the company policy limited light duty to those with work-related injuries or who needed accommodation under the ADA.

After Young’s FMLA time expired, she went on an extended unpaid leave of absence, and eventually she lost her medical coverage.  Eventually she returned to UPS following her delivery, and she filed a charge with the EEOC on July 23, 2007 alleging a violation of the ADA and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  UPS filed for summary judgment, which the District Court granted, and Young appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Among other arguments, Young contended that UPS had a duty to seek additional information from her healthcare provider in order to make their own independent evaluation of her ability to work.  The Court disagreed:  “Young presents no rationale, compelling or otherwise, for concluding that an employer acts inappropriately in relying on the employee’s own objective medical evidence.”

Young countered that she should have been accommodated under the ADA.  The Court again disagreed: “Moreover, we conclude 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 or an employee either prevented from operating a vehicle as a result of losing her DOT certification or injured on the job.”  The Court held that her lifting restriction was temporary and not a significant restriction on her ability to perform major life activities.

In addition to her ADA argument, Young contended that the actions of UPS also violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).  She argued that pregnant workers were not eligible for accommodation while employees who were not pregnant would be eligible for accommodation under certain circumstances.  The Court said, “By limiting accommodations to those employees injured on the job, disabled as defined under the ADA, and stripped of their DOT certifications, UPS has crafted a pregnancy-blind policy, and Young does not contend otherwise.”  The Court concluded, “We therefore adhere to the majority view that where a policy treats pregnant workers and nonpregnant workers alike, the employer has complied with the PDA.

This case may be found at Young v. UPS, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 530 (4th Cir. 2013).



About the Author

About the Author:

John H. Geaney, a shareholder and co-chair of Capehart Scatchard's Workers' Compensation department, began an email newsletter entitled Currents in Workers’ Compensation, ADA and FMLA in 2001 in order to keep clients and readers informed on leading developments in these three areas of law. Since that time he has written over 500 newsletter updates.

Mr. Geaney is the author of Geaney’s New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Manual for Practitioners, Adjusters & Employers. The manual is distributed by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE). He also authored an ADA and FMLA manual as distributed by NJICLE. If you are interested in purchasing the manual, please contact NJICLE at 732-214-8500 or visit their website at www.njicle.com.

Mr. Geaney represents employers in the defense of workers’ compensation, ADA and FMLA matters. He is a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers of the American Bar Association and is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a workers’ compensation law attorney. He is one of two firm representatives to the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. He has served on the Executive Committee of Capehart Scatchard for over ten (10) years.

A graduate of Holy Cross College summa cum laude, Mr. Geaney obtained his law degree from Boston College Law School. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” by his peers and Law and Politics. He serves as Vice President of the Friends of MEND, the fundraising arm of a local charitable organization devoted to promoting affordable housing.

Capehart Scatchard is a full service law firm with offices in Mt. Laurel and Trenton, New Jersey. The firm represents employers and businesses in a wide variety of areas, including workers’ compensation, civil litigation, labor, environmental, business, estates and governmental affairs.


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