A Florida Court of Appeal recently determined that pregnancy discrimination is not prohibited by the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA).
In Delva v. The Continental Group, Inc. the employee brought suit against her former employer claiming pregnancy discrimination in violation of the FCRA. The employee claimed that after notifying her supervisor of her pregnancy, she was treated unfairly and differently, and deprived of various conditions of employment. She further argued that upon being released to return to work after maternity leave, she was never returned to the schedule. The trial judge dismissed the suit as failure to state a claim n that pregnancy discrimination was not prohibited by Section 760.10.
The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, Section 760.10 provides that:
It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer: (a) to discharge or to fail or refuse to hire any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court and found the employee was unable to state a claim for relief. The Court looked to two prior state court opinions to reach its conclusion, but ultimately adopted the reasoning in O'Loughlin v. Pinchback (Fla.1st DCA, 1991) 579 So.2d 788. The O’Loughlin court relied heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in General Electric Company v. Gilbert (1976) 429 U.S. 125 wherein it was determined that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy was not sex discrimination under Title VII. Though later, Title VII was amended to include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Florida never amended its state law to include a prohibition against such discrimination. Since the Legislature did not intend to include this prohibition, the Court concluded that the employee could not make a claim for pregnancy discrimination under the FCRA.
Though the Florida statute has not been updated to include these protections, federal law (and many other state laws) prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. If you have questions about whether your policies and practices are compliant with state or federal law, please contact Cheryl Wilke or Amy K. Jensen.Florida, pregnancy discrimination