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EEOC v. JOSLYN MFG. AND SUPPLY CO.

October 26, 1981

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSLYN MANUFACTURING AND SUPPLY COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Parsons, Chief Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Under its jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 451, 1343 and 1345, this court has before it defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, its motion for summary judgment. In addition there is plaintiff's motion to strike defendant's affidavit in support of its alternative motions. For the reasons set out below, I grant plaintiff's motion to strike and grant defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") empowered to administer, interpret and enforce provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Defendant is Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company, ("Josyln"), an Illinois corporation doing the business of manufacturing in this state.

EEOC alleges that Joslyn "has intentionally engaged in unlawful employment practices . . . in violation of Section 703(a) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)." (EEOC Complaint, p. 2). This cause of action originated in a charge filed with the EEOC by John R. Smith, a former employee of Joslyn, on December 5, 1979. The gravamen of the charges is that Joslyn discriminates between its female and male employees with respect to pregnancy-related health benefits. EEOC charges discrimination in Joslyn's: 1) providing coverage for pregnancy-related expenditures to wives of employees for a certain period of time beyond the termination of male employees' employment while not providing such coverage for female employees themselves; 2) providing lesser health insurance coverage for pregnancy-related expenses to wives of employees than the coverage for husbands of employees; 3) requiring a nine-month waiting period for wives of employees to be eligible for pregnancy-related health insurance coverage while not requiring any waiting period for health insurance coverage for husbands of employees; and 4) providing an extension of coverage of pregnancy-related medical expenses for wives of employees beyond the end date of insurance coverage while not providing extension of coverage of disabilities for husbands of employees beyond the end date of insurance coverage.

Joslyn's current insurance plan was adjusted to comply with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act ("PDA"), which in 1978 amended Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The plan provides its female employees with benefits for pregnancy-related medical disabilities in order to equalize the benefits given to employees of both sexes for disabilities due to sickness.

The question presented is: When the employer has a health insurance plan that provides coverage of the husbands of employees, must the employer's coverage of the wives of employees include pregnancy-related expenses?

The determination of this issue turns on our examining the PDA. The act added subsection (k) to section 701 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). It reads:

    The terms "because of sex" or "on the basis of
  sex" include, but are not limited to, because of
  or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or
  related medical conditions; and women affected by
  pregnancy, childbirth or related medical
  conditions shall be treated the same for all
  employment-related purposes, including receipt of
  benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other
  persons not so affected but similar in their
  ability or inability to work, and nothing in
  section 2000e-2(h) of this title shall be
  interpreted to permit otherwise . . .

The PDA was enacted in response to the Supreme Court decision in General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125, 139, 97 S.Ct. 401, 410, 50 L.Ed.2d 343 (1976), that held: "pregnancy-related disabilities constitute an additional risk, unique to women, and the failure to compensate them for this risk does not destroy the presumed parity of the benefits, accruing to men and women alike, which results from the facially evenhanded inclusion of risks," thus, the exclusion of pregnancy disability benefits did not violate Title VII. 429 U.S. 125, 97 S.Ct. 401, 50 L.Ed.2d 343 (1976). The amendment aimed to rectify the Gilbert case by explicitly declaring that sex discrimination in employment included the different treatment of women employees from men employees on the basis of the capacity of the former to become pregnant.

After the passage of the PDA, the EEOC revised its Guidelines on Sex Discrimination*fn1 and issued Questions and Answers interpreting the PDA. Questions and Answers*fn2 numbered 21 and 22 respectively state in the affirmative: ". . . if an employer's insurance program covers the medical expenses of spouses of female employees, then it must equally cover the medical expenses of spouses of male employees, including those arising from pregnancy-related conditions; [and] where the employer provides coverage for the medical conditions of the spouses of its employees, then the level of coverage for pregnancy-related medical conditions of the spouses of male employees must be the same as the level of coverage for all other medical conditions of the spouses of female employees."

Neither the language nor the legislative history of the PDA lends convincing support to the EEOC's interpretation of it. The language "employment-related purposes" and "similar in their ability or inability to work" has a commonsense reading that it pertains to women workers only. The EEOC would have us give an unrestrictive meaning that would apply to any wife who could benefit from fringe benefit programs by being a dependent of a male worker. Since the language of this provision does not specifically state that the pregnancy-related discrimination is exclusive to working women, I must rely on the legislative history and concomitant interpretation of the PDA.

In support of its interpretation of the PDA, defendant cites the recent district court decisions, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company v. EEOC,*fn3 No. 81C1541 (N.D.Calif. July 6, 1981) and Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. v. EEOC, 510 F. Supp. 66 (E.D.Va. 1981). Newport is directly on point for our determination. In that case, as in the present one, EEOC sought to enforce its guidelines, as set out in its Questions and Answers numbers 21 and 22 interpreting the PDA, against the plaintiff. Citing General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125, 97 S.Ct. 401, 50 L.Ed.2d 343 (1976) and Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484, 94 S.Ct. 2485, 41 L.Ed.2d 256 (1974), the judge in the Newport case found: "Clearly . . . the exclusions of pregnancy-related benefits from a disability program does not constitute gender-based discrimination and that, absent a showing of a gender-based effect, there can be no violation of Title VII § 703(a)(1). Although the PDA carved out a narrow exception with respect to female employees or applicants for employment, it clearly did not `change the application of Title VII to sex discrimination in any other way.' S.Rep. No. 331 95th Cong., 1st Sess. July 6, 1977 p. 3. Thus, in situations not involving female employees or applicants for employment, the principles of Title VII as enunciated in Gilbert, supra, remain unchanged." Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. v. EEOC, 510 F. Supp. 66 at 70 (E.D.Va. 1981).

My review of the legislative history corroborates the decisions in Lockheed, supra, and Newport, supra, holding that the intent of Congress was not to require the extension of pregnancy-related disability benefits from female employees to wives of male employees. A few excerpts will suffice to demonstrate the intent of Congress to establish only a remedy for pregnancy-related disabilities of working women:

  1)  The bill would simply require that pregnant
      women be treated the same as other employees
      on the basis of their ability or inability to
      work. H.R. 95-948, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 4,
      reprinted ...

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