Court: state law doesn't bar pregnancy discrimination

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Nothing in Florida law prevents discrimination against women on the basis that they’re pregnant, an appeals court ruled Wednesday, although federal law does, reports David Royse of the News Service of Florida.

Citing the plain language of the Florida Civil Rights Act, a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami dismissed a woman’s lawsuit filed in state court, saying the Florida law simply doesn’t include pregnancy as a protected condition.

The act bars employers from firing or refusing to hire or promote people, or otherwise discriminating against them based on “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.” It doesn’t mention pregnancy.

The appeals court said there was “no doubt” the woman claiming discrimination in the case, Peguy Delva, a front desk manager at properties owned by the Continental Group, had a sufficient claim of discrimination.

But she should pursue that claim in federal court, it said. Federal law does have an explicit ban on discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy,” contained in the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Delva did file a case under the federal law, but she later dropped it without explanation.

In her state case, however, Delva asserted that the Florida Civil Rights Act would allow a “more extensive remedy” than the federal law. Writing for the appeals court, Senior Judge Alan Schwartz acknowledged that might be the case.

“The fact remains that pregnancy discrimination is not prohibited by the Florida Civil Rights Act and therefore the state statute provides no remedy,” he wrote.

Delva no longer works for Continental Group.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.