Employment

Florida Supreme Court Says State Doesn't Need Special Pregnancy Discrimination Laws (Lawmakers, Naturally, Disagree)

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KenWalker/Wikimedia

The Florida Supreme Court decided there's no need for anti-discrimination statutes specifically for pregnant women. Because women are the only ones who can be pregnant, state laws barring sex-based discrimination should suffice, the court ruled in a 6-1 opinion. 

"Indeed, the capacity to become pregnant is one of the most significant and obvious distinctions between the female and male sexes," Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority.

"For this reason, discrimination based on pregnancy is in fact discrimination based on sex because it is discrimination as to a natural condition unique to only one sex and that arises 'because of [an] individual's sex.'" 

The matter came to Florida's high court after lower courts disagreed about whether existing state law did, in fact, bar pregnancy discrimination.* The case was brought by Peguy Delva, a front desk manager at property management firm The Continental Group who says the company refused to schedule her for shifts after her maternity leave.

A Miami-Dade County circuit court ruled against her, but the 3rd District Court of Appeals was more sympathetic, saying there was "no doubt" discrimination had taken place. Since Florida law doesn't specifically say anything about pregnancy discrimination, however, the appeals court also sided with the company. 

The Florida Senate and House responded by introducing bills that would add pregnancy to the Florida Civil Rights Act. The court's ruling would seem to make these measures moot, but lawmakers never let a little redundancy deter them. Rep. Lori Berman (D-Lantana), sponsor of the House bill, told the Jacksonville Business Journal that "it's just as important as ever for the Legislature to pass it and for the governor to enact it as law."

*Federal law explicitly bans discrimination "on the basis of pregnancy," per the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. 

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  1. “Indeed, the capacity to become pregnant is one of the most significant and obvious distinctions between the female and male sexes,”

    …which is no-one’s fault, not even the Romans’…

    1. I still want the right to have babies.

      1. Have them…over for dinner?

      2. Have them roasted and served over potatoes?

        1. Fava beans and a nice chianti.

  2. *Federal law explicitly bans discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy abandoning your job for several months and then working far fewer hours afterward,” per the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act

    1. And expecting your co-workers to pick up the slack.

  3. Because women are the only ones who can be pregnant, state laws barring sex-based discrimination should suffice, the court ruled in a 6-1 opinion.

    Cue Monty Pythons “Life of Brian” amphitheater scene!

    “Where’s the fetus going to gestate….you gonna keep it in a box”?

  4. Right. I don’t suppose the company might have discriminated against her availability as a new parent.

  5. “The case was brought by Peguy Delva,…who says the company refused to schedule her for shifts after her maternity leave.”

    Er, then she was not pregnant at the time.

    1. I think she was arguing that they were taking punitive actions because of her taking government guaranteed maternity leave (during some part of which she could have been pregnant). That is, that they discriminated against her for not working while bringing her pregnancy to a successful conclusion.

  6. Is it discrimination against women for being pregnant or discrimination against women for missing big chunks of time from work?

    1. Re: Bo Cara Esq,

      Is it discrimination against women for being pregnant or discrimination against women for missing big chunks of time from work?

      What’s the difference? <—- That’s the point

      1. It is such dishonest labeling. ‘Discrimination against pregnancy’ is not like a person who refuses to hire or promote someone because they are black. They are not treated differently just because they are pregnant, they are treated differently for missing a big chunk of time. And if the employer treats everyone who misses a big chunk of time the same then it is not discrimination.

        1. It’s even bigger than that. Not only do they miss a big chunk of time, but many times they come back distracted, and work disjointed hours due to new obligations.

          I’ve got a bunch of coworkers who do good work, but they just have to drop out and take PTO at random because of their children. While my coworkers are more than talented and motivated enough to overcome that issue, I could definitely see a situation where a marginal employee who gets pregnant and has all the extra responsibilities of a child may push themselves over the edge.

        2. I was explaining to my wife, who is on maternity leave, why it is not as simple as the bullshit class she is taking makes it out about the US “having the worst maternity leave”. She’s not unintelligent, she just never really gave a shit. But once I laid it out to her: “Imagine a business needs four employees, now imagine they pay an employee to do nothing, but still need to get the work done. How does the business make up for that?” She got it instantly. “Oh, they either have to pay the same people to do more work OR they have to pay to hire and train a new person.”

          She works as an advisor for a university, they are so overstaffed that it didn’t affect her colleagues particularly when she went out on leave. She’s only worked food service and state jobs, so she doesn’t really have a concept of depending on specific people to show up for work.

          1. I am all for employers voluntarily exploring ways that they could keep good workers by accommodating their temporary family needs when they can, but calling employers doing something different ‘pregnancy discrimination’ is just dishonest. Pregnancy discrimination would only be if an employer had a worker who could perform as well and as much as anyone who also happened to be pregnant and that employer treated her different because he thought pregnant women were inferior or gross to be around or something (and of course I think employers should be able to discriminate based on that if they wish, but that’s another discussion).

  7. “Indeed, the capacity to become pregnant is one of the most significant and obvious distinctions between the female and male sexes,” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority.

    That’s so cis-sexist.

    1. Not to mention a slap in the face to all those cis-females who have reproductive problems.

  8. Speaking of babies.

    This week’s updated puppy pics.

    Chubby little piggies. Eyes fully open.

    1. Cute. I’ll trade you a four month old human baby, good sleeper, hardly fusses, mostly cheerful for one.

      1. Pass.

        The problem with kids is, you can’t just leave them in the back yard when you go out.

    2. “Hey, those aren’t babies! Those are just shaved puppies!”

  9. Oh my gosh, this is crazy. Wow. traffic tickets las vegas

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