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Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. v. EEOC - 462 U.S. 669, 103 S. Ct. 2622 (1983)

Rule:

Male as well as female employees are protected against discrimination. Thus, if a private employer were to provide complete health insurance coverage for the dependents of its female employees, and no coverage at all for the dependents of its male employees, it would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e. Such a practice would not pass the simple test of 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e discrimination for it would treat a male employee with dependents in a manner which but for that person's sex would be different.

Facts:

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (42 USCS 2000e) was enacted by Congress in 1978 to provide that the prohibition against sex discrimination in employment in 703(a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 included a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. In order to comply with the Act, an employer amended its health insurance plan for its employees to cover pregnancy-related conditions of female employees to the same extent as other medical conditions. The plan also provided coverage of the pregnancy-related conditions of the spouses of male employees, but not to the extent of that provided to female employees. Petitioner filed an action in Federal District Court challenging the EEOC's guidelines which indicated that the amended plan was unlawful, and the EEOC in turn filed an action against petitioner alleging discrimination on the basis of sex against male employees in petitioner's provision of hospitalization benefits. The District Court upheld the lawfulness of petitioner's amended plan and dismissed the EEOC's complaint. On a consolidated appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed.

Issue:

Considering petitioner's provision of hospitalization benefits, was there discrimination on the basis of sex against male employees?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

Section 703(a) makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to "discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. . . ." 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Health insurance and other fringe benefits are "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment."  Male as well as female employees are protected against discrimination. Thus, if a private employer were to provide complete health insurance coverage for the dependents of its female employees, and no coverage at all for the dependents of its male employees, it would violate Title VII.  Such a  [*683]  practice would not pass the simple test of Title VII discrimination that we enunciated in Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 711 (1978), for it would treat a male employee with dependents "'in a manner which but for that person's sex would be different.'" The same result would be reached even if the magnitude of the discrimination were smaller. For example, a plan that provided complete hospitalization coverage for the spouses of female employees but did not cover spouses of male employees when they had broken bones would violate Title VII by discriminating against male employees

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