Young v. UPS, or What IS Pregnancy Anyway?

I’m seeing lots of posts about the Peggy Young vs. UPS SCOTUS case, but little discussion about what I find to be the most interesting aspect.

There’s a fair amount of ethical agreement that pregnant workers deserve reasonable medical accommodations in the workplace. But there’s a lot of disagreement over how to legally enforce it, because right now it’s a bit of a loophole. There was an amendment made to Title VI in 1978 that says references to “gender” include issues related to pregnancy. But Title VI only deals with programs and entities that receive federal funding, not private industry. Many suggest it should fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits employer discrimination and requires reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. It makes sense, because the kinds of accommodations required — light labor, limited standing, more water and bathroom breaks — are similar to those commonly provided under the ADA. It’s kind of a natural fit. BUT…

A whole lot of people understandably object to the implication that pregnancy is a disability.

The problem is that we don’t have a law that prohibits discrimination of and guarantees reasonable accommodations for people with medical conditions that are NOT disabilities.

I don’t have a zinger conclusion to this, I just find it really interesting. (And I’m just starting to familiarize myself with the relevant legislation.) Is there a medical condition besides pregnancy that qualifies as needing special accommodations but is not a disability? Does this issue reveal a larger problem with calling ANYTHING a disability, rather than simply a medical condition? Would the ERA have prevented this problem? Do we amend the ADA to say pregnancy is included despite it not being a disability? Do we need a separate law specifically for pregnant women? Wouldn’t it be better to have a blanket law that provides protection for all medical conditions?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.