No longer stands for “Unlimited Pregnant woman Sacking”
You do this long enough, and you’ll see everything:
Based on this test, the majority rejected the Fourth Circuit’s summary dismissal of Young’s claim. Young was able to present at least some evidence that she was treated differently than other non-pregnant employees with similar limitations related to heavy lifting, and hence her case was dismissed prematurely. Justice Alito — not exactly a bleeding heart on employment discrimination cases — found that it “is not at all clear that respondent had any neutral business ground for treating pregnant drivers less favorably than at least some of its nonpregnant drivers who were reassigned to other jobs that they were physically capable of performing.”
If there isn’t a settlement, it will remain up to the lower courts to determine if she can prove her discrimination claim. But at least she will be allowed to make her case.
So while Young did not get the court to embrace the broadest interpretation of the statute, the decision must be considered a victory. “The court made clear that employers may not refuse to accommodate pregnant workers based on considerations of cost or convenience when they accommodate other workers,” Samuel Bagenstos, the Michigan Law School professor who represented Young before the Supreme Court, told me. “It’s a big step forward towards enforcing the principle that a woman shouldn’t have to choose between her pregnancy and her job.”
We still don’t know if Peggy Young’s strong case will ultimately prevail. But when the Roberts Court issues a ruling that sides with the workers and gives greater protection to women, it’s a reason for both surprise and celebration.
A few additional notes:
- This case was apparently written from an alternate universe in which Stuart Taylor knows what he’s talking about. For the first time in an important case, Roberts and Alito but not Kennedy joined the Democratic nominees. When I read the Alito concurrence I keep looking for the angle but it’s reasonable enough that I certainly would have signed for it after oral argument. Let’s just say I’m happy that I didn’t have the opportunity to bet on the vote alignment in this case. I’m not saying that Bagenstos is the greatest Supreme Court advocate since Daniel Webster, but I’m not not saying either.
- As Irin Carmon observed on Twitter, Kennedy’s dissent is another one of his “I had to rule against your rights, ladies — I’m not prepared to go as far as a Trotskyist like Sam Alito — but I’m a nice guy, honest” specials.
- The Scalia is dissent is pretty much all spittle and no gin, but it must be acknowledged that it almost certainly sets the record for uses of the word “poof” in a Supreme Court opinion.
- More commentary from Lithwick and Leber.