U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number


2014 Term


Questions Presented

Whether, and in what circumstances, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work."

Case Updates

U.S. Supreme Court decides Pregnancy Discrimination Act case

March 25, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the ruling of the Fourth Circuit and remanded the case, holding that an individual pregnant worker who seeks to show disparate treatment through indirect evidence may do so through application of the McDonnell Douglas framework. The Court held that Young created a genuine dispute as to whether UPS provided more favorable treatment to at least some employees whose situation cannot reasonably be distinguished from hers.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

October 31, 2014

In its brief, the Chamber explained that Title VII recognizes two, and only two types of actionable discrimination based on pregnancy. Where an employer intentionally burdens an employee because she is pregnant, the employee can raise a disparate treatment claim. Where an employer has applied a facially neutral policy that unintentionally burdens a pregnant employee, the employee can assert that the policy created an unlawful disparate impact. These two theories are analytically distinct, require different forms of proof, allow for different defenses, and provide different remedies.

The position advanced by Petitioner and her amici, the Chamber argued, distorts this statutory structure, and would create the unprecedented anomaly of an “intentional” discrimination claim that requires no showing of discriminatory intent. The sole argument offered by Petitioner and the Government for this remarkable conclusion, while repackaged in various forms, inevitably relies on ignoring the statutory context and assuming that the PDA creates a freestanding cause of action for failure to accommodate pregnancy when, in fact, it does not.

The Chamber also explained that reading the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to create a disparate treatment cause of action with no showing of intentional discrimination would lead to untenable and implausible results. Under Petitioner’s reading, Title VII would prevent businesses from giving unique benefits to employees injured in service of their employer, would prohibit neutral seniority policies and preferences for veterans, and would outlaw scores of other innocuous, commonplace, pregnancy-neutral policies followed by American businesses.

Lori Alvino McGill and Kathleen M. Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP represented the Chamber as co-counsel to the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

Case Documents