The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed that abortion discrimination in employment is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
It was the case of Jane Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus, Inc.; Fred Kohl that spawned the Court’s ruling. Prior to the case, plaintiff Jane Doe had terminated her pregnancy based on her doctor’s advice.
Jane Doe is a pseudonym (fictitious name) used in lawsuits to protect a female plaintiff’s identity, as is John Doe for a male plaintiff.
Doe’s doctor had advised her to terminate her pregnancy, because prenatal medical testing revealed that her unborn baby was severely deformed.
Jane Doe and her husband kept Doe’s supervisor, the defendant Fred Kohl, informed of her medical situation, as well as the time off from work that Doe required to attend to the matter. But Kohl fired Doe anyway for job abandonment, despite that he had allegedly approved an additional week of vacation for her to recover from her abortion, according to Doe’s husband.
Shortly after Kohl fired Doe, her office manager, Leona Dunnett, who was also Doe’s sister-in-law and testified as a witness in the case, heard Kohl discussing Doe’s abortion with another employee. Dunnett said that she heard Kohl remark that Doe “didn’t want to take responsibility.”
What Dunnett heard Kohl say might have implied that he fired Doe under the guise of job abandonment, to get away with discriminating against her because she “didn’t want to take responsibility” to care for a deformed child after birth.
In other words, it might have implied abortion discrimination in employment on Kohl’s part, which was enough to entitle Doe to sue him and his employer C.A.R.S., an insurer of used cars.
Doe filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and received a “right-to-sue letter”. She then proceeded to sue Kohl and C.A.R.S. for what amounted to abortion discrimination on the basis of gender, in violation of Title VII; but, the district court with which she filed her lawsuit didn’t see it that way.
Doe initially filed her lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. To keep a long story short, instead of granting Doe a trial by jury, as it should have for abortion discrimination, the District Court instead treated the case as a mundane gender discrimination claim and granted C.A.R.S. a summary judgement.
The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed that decision in favor of Jane Doe (and through precedent, in favor of all other women who will suffer abortion discrimination in employment). In doing so, the Court affirmed that abortion discrimination is illegal employment discrimination under Title VII on the basis of gender and should be treated as such.
This is just one writer’s interpretation of the case. To formulate your own, see Jane Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus, Inc.; Fred Kohl for more of Jane Doe’s story plus an analysis of her case, both by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.