Florida Supreme Court: Civil Rights Act Protects Pregnant Women


Between the state of the current economy and the ever-shifting gender roles within family, it seems that more families than ever are doing what they have to do to meet their financial and other requirements. Unfortunately for some women, their careers and, correspondingly, their finances may suffer unnecessarily when they decide to expand their family and become pregnant. Now, according to a recent article, the Supreme Court of Florida is saying that women who are discriminated against for pregnancy will be protected under state law.

The Case

The Court’s decision comes in light of a case in which a woman was working for a real estate developing company when she became pregnant and later went on maternity leave. Upon her return to work, she was denied requests for extra shifts and was not scheduled to work. As a result, she sued the company in 2011 in Miami-Dade County Court.

The Court’s Ruling

A majority of the Court ruled that even though the current statute covering discrimination does not specifically address pregnancy, it does serve to protect individuals based on gender. This decision overturned a previous court decision which stated that Florida’s Civil Rights Act would not extend to cover discrimination based on pregnancy. Instead, this Court viewed the law as being broad in scope, saying that discrimination because of pregnancy is covered by the law protecting an individual from discrimination based on gender. The Court’s ruling was consistent with holdings reached by other state’s courts, specifying an area of state law that was previously vague, despite the explicit protection of pregnant women under federal law.

The only dissenting opinion cited reasoning that the plain meaning of the Florida Civil Rights Act does not include pregnancy discrimination. The gender protection does not necessarily refer to being pregnant or not pregnant, despite that only one gender can achieve the status. The lower court that originally heard the case apparently agreed with the defense on the basis that pregnancy was not explicitly identified as a protected condition under the Florida law. However, the Plaintiff’s attorney successfully argued that federal law does provide such protections, and since the Florida statute is based on it, the state should too.

Pending Legislation

There is pending legislation within the state that would specifically add the term pregnancy to the existing statute, but some argue that is not necessary and the judicial system is equipped to correct the errors on its own. A bill is drafted, but has not yet been passed.

Civil Litigation Attorneys

The attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. have successful experience representing clients in numerous types of civil actions in every stage of litigation. If you believe you have rights as a plaintiff to bring suit, or have been served as a defendant, we are prepared to consult with you about your case and take on your representation to protect your rights. We have represented clients in Dade, Broward, and Monroe County Courts. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We have offices located in North Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Islamorada, and Key West.