Thursday, March 15, 2007

Is pregnancy a disease? Even though some feminists and college boys might think so, the Eighth Circuit court of appeals declines to decide this issue, but agrees with Union Pacific that it did not have to cover contraceptive prescriptions that were not related to medical conditions. Plans did not violate Title VII or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act Standridge v. Union Pacific 061706P.pdf 03/15/2007 U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 06-1706 District of Nebraska - Omaha Female plaintiffs sued their employer Union Pacific Railroad Company (“Union Pacific”) for sexual discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). The district court granted plaintiffs partial summary judgment. Union Pacific appealed and the Eighth Circuit reverses: because the Union Pacific health plan excluded both male and female contraception unless they were necessary for other medical conditions, the railroad did not discriminate against the female employees. The district court held that Union Pacific violated Title VII, as amended by the PDA, because “it treats medical care women need to prevent pregnancy less favorably than it treats medical care needed to prevent other medical conditions that are no greater threat to employees’ health than is pregnancy.” The Eighth Circuit earlier held that a health plan could exclude infertility treatments for men because “infertility is outside of the PDA’s protection because it is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” Krauel v. Iowa Methodist Medical Center, 95 F.3d 674 (8th Cir. 1996 Judge Bye, dissenting” Women are uniquely and specifically disadvantaged by Union Pacific’s failure to cover prescription contraception. Because I believe such a policy violates Title VII, as amended by the PDA, I respectfully dissent. Although the district court’s decision might appear to grant women benefits above and beyond those of men, the PDA requires such benefits be included in an otherwise comprehensive health care plan.

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