Cullen Women's Center
offers Pregnancy Testing
Monday - Saturday 9-5 pm
MGBGT 74. 22,000 Miles.
Overdrive, A/C, radio.
Blue, tan upholstery. $3,200.
Driven only by HI ole lady.
Mitzi Burton, 626-9322, 665-7039.
If you feel you have a sex or race discrimination complaint
Call: 222-5411 City of Houston Fair Housing Division
Update: Court shifts
on pregnancy leave
By Patti O Kane
Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court disappointed millions of women workers
by deciding that denial of sick leave and disability pay to employees on leaves of absence involving pregnancy did not constitute unlawful sex discrimination. This decision opened the door to a number of abuses and effectively gave companies the green
light to exclude pregnancy from employee insurance plans.
Last month, in Nashville Gas Co. v. Satty and a companion case, the Supreme
Court modified their former position by holding that denial of accumulated seniority
upon return from pregnancy leave deprives women of employment opportunities and
adversely affects their status as employees. Such action was held to be in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act's ban on sex discrimination in employment.
Under the policy maintained by Nashville Gas Company, a woman could be
granted a pregnancy leave of absence for up to one year. However, she could return to
full time status only when a permanent position became available and there was no bid
submitted for that position by a permanent employee. In other words, an employee on
pregnancy leave lost her accumulated seniority for job bidding purposes. A man, also
absent on a non-work related disability, maintained this seniority. The Nashville Gas
policy also stated that sick leave could not be applied to a pregnancy related absence.
The Court found that the exclusion of sick pay from the compensation conditions would be lawful unless used as a pretext for discrimination.
It was recognized that the seniority policy was neutral to the extent that it allowed both female and male employees to retain seniority while on leave for nonoccupational disabilities other than pregnancy. The policy could not stand, however, because it discriminated against women who became pregnant by divesting them of seniority rights after a pregnancy related leave of absence.
The employer in this case had not merely refused to extend to women a benefit
that men cannot and did not receive in divesting women of accrued seniority rights after pregnancy leave, the Court explained. Instead a substantial burden was imposed on
women that men were not required to suffer.
As in its earlier decision in Gilbert, holding it lawful to exclude pregnancy from
a disability plan, the Court points out that the law does not require greater economic
benefits to be paid to one sex or the other because of their different roles. However, as
in the present case, the law does not permit an employer to burden female employees
in a way that deprives them of employment opportunities because of their different
PROFESSIONAL • EXPERIENCED •QUALIFIED
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degrees in business administration, law • Harris Co. Justice of
the Peace • Director, Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce,
Co-Chair, Transportation Committee • Judicial Representative, Houston-Galveston Council on Law Enforcement*
Director, Riverside General Hospital • Director, Bay Area
Drug Abuse Committee • Harris Co. Precinct Judge, Democratic Executive Committee • Harris Co. District Attorney's
Office, U.S. Senate Intern Programs
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March 1978 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH Page 21