Whether the history and Congressional Intent of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to treat pregnant women the same as other temporarily disabled workers.
The petition in this case presents an issue of great significance for working women in the United States, who comprise nearly half the labor force. The vast majority of working women will become pregnant at some point during their working lives, and many of them will experience at least minor conflicts between job requirements or working conditions and the temporary, but real physical effects of pregnancy. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling interprets the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k) (“PDA”), in a manner that is inconsistent with the statutory text, Congress’ intent in passing the law, and this Court’s post-PDA precedents. Beyond simply failing to give the PDA its due, the Fourth Circuit’s ruling exacerbates existing harmful stereotypes about pregnant workers, one of the primary problems the PDA was intended to counteract. In sum, the Fourth Circuit’s ruling adopts a view of pregnancy discrimination that belies both the text and intent of the PDA, reinforces stereotypes about the incompatibility of pregnancy with paid employment, and undermines this Court’s longstanding commitment to gender equality and the “equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on . . . individual talents and capacities.” United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 532 (1996). 4 For these reasons, we urge the Court to review the decision of the Fourth Circuit and settle the longstanding circuit split about the proper interpretation of the PDA’s second clause.