Former UPS employee Peggy Young is in the wrong
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case, Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service. It’s a fascinating tale of love and loss, of greed and desire and one woman’s struggle to do nothing more than provide for her family — at least, according to the media. In reality, it’s a sad display of how so-called families and parents function in 21st century America.
Young, a mother of three, is currently fighting her former employer, UPS, over a matter of pregnancy and accommodations. In 2006, she became pregnant with her third child and her doctor and midwife recommended she not lift anything over 20 pounds. Young, whose job at the time required her to lift up to 70 pounds, requested light-duty work.
Instead, UPS gave her unpaid leave for seven months, claiming she didn’t fit the requirements for light-duty work and the company didn’t want to give her special treatment. According to Young, she was told to return when she was no longer pregnant — and she did, before quitting in 2009 and suing the company for violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
This incident sparked debate across the U.S. According to her supporters, hearkening from both sides of the political aisle, UPS and similar businesses must accommodate pregnant workers in accordance with the PDA.
The problem is UPS did not violate the PDA. The act says pregnant women should be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other persons “not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” It seems that for Young’s case, UPS did just what the PDA mandated.
UPS made the right call. In a society bent on treating women like men, the company did nothing less than put Young on the same playing field with men. The business still has to run, and if a worker like Young cannot do their job, the business should let them go. In Young’s case, this meant putting her on unpaid maternity leave.
See the problem here? While many want to shame the company for putting a pregnant woman on leave without pay, it would be unlawful, discriminatory and sexist for the company to treat a pregnant woman differently than they would other employees in similar circumstances.
Here, Young was hired to do a job and she couldn’t come through. She put herself in the position where she had to choose between work and family, not UPS.
Don’t think this is a case where the pregnancy was unplanned and she had to make do. According to a report from the UK Daily Mail, Young underwent in vitro fertilization to become pregnant. As Mayo Clinic notes, the procedure, in which an egg is fertilized in a lab and then implanted in the woman’s body, is often used to assist infertile women. Undergoing this procedure must have required a great deal of planning on Young’s part.
This case highlights the importance of recognizing the differences between men and women in the workforce. Men and women are biologically different, but if women are part of the workforce, they must be held to the same standards as men. UPS demonstrated this when they gave Young leave for being unable to do her job.
Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court will agree with the lower courts and side with UPS.
Andrew Jenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org