South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Failure to Cover Contraception Not in Violation of Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Description Appeals court held that a company medical plan that excluded the costs of contraception was gender neutral, so was not sex discrimination, and did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act since contraception is not a medical treatment for pregnancy.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Pregnancy Discrimination; Contraception Benefits
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Union Pacific provides health care benefits to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement. The five health care plans all exclude male and female contraceptive method costs. Some employees who use contraception sued in a class action, contending that the plan discriminates against women employees in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The district court held that the exclusion discriminated against women and, as it is related to pregnancy, specifically violated the PDA. Union Pacific appealed.
Decision

Reversed and remanded. Exclusion of all prescription contraception from coverage did not constitute sex discrimination and so did not violate Title VII. Men and women were both affected by the rule the same way. Furthermore, contraception is not “related to” pregnancy so the exclusion could not violate the PDA. Contraception is not a medical treatment necessary in the event of pregnancy, and the failure to cover the medication is gender neutral.

Citation In re Union Pacific Railroad Employment Practices Litigation, 479 F.3d 936 (8th Cir., 2007)

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