COVID-19 Special Coverage
Japan Supreme Court backs woman demoted for pregnancy
Japan Supreme Court backs woman demoted for pregnancy

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Japan [official website, in Japanese] on Thursday ordered a retrial on a woman’s claims that she was demoted due to her pregnancy. A physiotherapist asked her employer for a less strenuous job position for the duration of her pregnancy. However, after she had the baby and returned to work, the physiotherapist was not reinstated to her higher position. While prior rulings have sided in favor of her employer, the Supreme Court has ordered a retrial of the case [Japan Times report]. According to the court, “it is illegal and invalid to discharge or treat disadvantageously a female worker due to her pregnancy.”

The US Supreme Court is set to rule on a similar issue [JURIST report] this term. In Young v. United Parcel Service [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the court will consider whether, and in what circumstances, an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations must provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.” The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) [text] provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment related purposes … as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” Peggy Young was a driver for United Parcel Service (UPS) [corporate website]. When she became pregnant, UPS refused to put her on light duty. Young sued, but the district court granted summary judgment for UPS, and the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that decision [opinion].