YOUNG v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., NO. 11-2078

Decided: April 10, 2015

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that Young did not establish a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination against her employer, United Parcel Service (“UPS”).

This appeal followed the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment to Young’s employer, UPS, on her claims under Title VII of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and pregnancy after UPS would not allow her to return to work while she was pregnant.  Young requested a leave of absence in July of 2006 to try a round of in vitro fertilization, and the UPS occupational health manager, Carolyn Martin, granted Young’s request.  In September, 2006, Young gave her supervisor a doctor’s note, which stated that Young would not be able to lift more than 20 pounds for the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy and no more than 10 pounds thereafter.  Martin informed Young that UPS would not permit her to work if Young could not lift 20 pounds.  In October of 2006, Young had a check-up with her midwife, Cynthia Shawl, who wrote a letter recommending that Young not lift more than 20 pounds.  Based on these lifting limitations, Martin subsequently determined that Young could not return to work until she was no longer pregnant.  The Capital Division Manager in the D.C. Building, Myron Williams, affirmed Martin’s decision in November of the same year.  Young subsequently went on an extended leave of absence, receiving no pay and losing her medical coverage by the end of the year.  Thereafter, Young filed her discrimination claims, and the district court granted summary judgment for UPS.  This appeal followed.

On appeal, Young rested her claims on two arguments.  First, she argued that UPS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by impermissibly regarding her as disabled.  The court determined that Young could not establish that she had a disability as defined in the ADA because she could point to “no more than the objective fact of her pregnancy,” and she could not show that UPS’s occupational health manager, Carolyn Martin, subjectively believed that Young was disabled.  Second, Young claimed that UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) by discriminating against her because she was pregnant.  The court determined that Young could not show any direct evidence of pregnancy discrimination. Moreover, the court determined that Young could not offer evidence sufficient to make out a prima facie case of discrimination because Young could not establish that other, similarly-situated employees “received more favorable treatment.”  Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s order.

Full Opinion

Charles Buist

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