From left: Peggy Young’s attorney Sharon Gustafson, Peggy Young, AUL General Counsel Ovide Lamontagne outside the Supreme Court following the December 3, 2014 oral argument.
“The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. United Parcel Service is a victory for pregnant women who put the needs of their unborn children first in the workplace, and for all women who have asked for the same accommodations at work that other employees receive,” said AUL’s Dr. Charmaine Yoest.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (03-25-15) – “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Young v. United Parcel Service is a victory for pregnant women who put the needs of their unborn children first in the workplace, and for all women who have asked for the same accommodations at work that other employees receive. Fair is fair,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest. The case involves the federal “Pregnancy Discrimination Act,” which was designed to protect pregnant mothers at work. “Women should not suffer discrimination in the workplace and risk losing their jobs because they are having a baby. And pregnant mothers should not be treated differently and denied accommodations offered to other employees,” Dr. Yoest noted.
Peggy Young, a pregnant mother, was a driver for UPS. Though other workers received a “lighter duty” accommodation for conditions like sprained ankles, Ms. Young was denied an accommodation during her pregnancy, in violation of the federal PDA. Ms. Young lost in the two lower courts, and today the United States Supreme Court reversed their decisions in favor of Ms. Young. Ironically, during the course of the legal action, UPS changed its policy to grant “light-duty” to pregnant employees. The case drew widespread attention as pro-life advocates agreed with abortion supporters that pregnant women deserved protection in the workplace.
AUL Senior Counsel Clarke D. Forsythe was instrumental in organizing an amicus brief filed on behalf of 23 pro-life organizations in the case and served as co-counsel in the case along with AUL General Counsel Ovide M. Lamontagne. Other co-counsel on the brief are Carrie Severino (counsel of record) and Jonathan Keim of the Judicial Education Project, and Professor Thomas Berg and Professor Teresa Collett of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
To read more on the AUL brief, click here.
“One of the unfortunate cultural consequences of the Supreme Court’s 1973 sweeping decision in Roe v. Wade was that it resulted in considerable economic and social pressure on some pregnant women to abort. Roe’s supporters taught that abortion is a quick, easy, less-expensive choice and pushed women to ignore their desire for children. Workplaces hostile to the needs of pregnant women added to that pressure,” said Dr. Yoest. “AUL stands with women, working to ensure that their fundamental right to choose life is not only protected in law but is accommodated in the workplace.”
At the national level, a bi-partisan coalition in Congress introduced the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1977. The PDA had two primary goals: to reduce pressure on women in the workforce to have an abortion, and to protect the health of pregnant mothers and their unborn children during employment. Almost all states after Roe enacted their own version of pregnancy discrimination acts. And, today, at least 15 states have some form of legislation prohibiting coerced abortions.
To learn more about the case, click here to read Forsythe’s op-ed on the case in USA Today.