The harsh reality is that Florida employees often face unreasonable discrimination in the workplace. The Florida Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or marital status. The Florida Supreme Court recently held that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is also prohibited by the Florida Civil Rights Act.
In deciding the case of Peguy Delva v. The Continental Group, Inc., the Florida Supreme Court reviewed a ruling set forth by the Court of Appeals for the Third District. In the underlying case, Plaintiff brought suit against her employer, alleging that she experienced adverse employment actions because she was pregnant. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that she was not allowed to change or work extra shifts, even though the employer’s policy allowed it. Moreover, according to Plaintiff, her work was exceedingly scrutinized and her employer refused to schedule her to work when she wished to return from maternity leave. Her suit was dismissed at the trial level for failure to state a claim. On appeal, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the Florida Civil Rights Act does not encompass pregnancy discrimination.
When reviewing the Delva case, the Florida Supreme Court noted that there existed a conflict between the Districts over the validity of a pregnancy discrimination claim brought under Florida laws. The Supreme Court looked at the provisions of the Florida Civil Rights Act and acknowledged that the law does not specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. However, the Act does make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of an individual’s sex. The Supreme Court then observed that pregnancy is a condition that is unique to women, and it is a primary trait of the female sex.