The 8 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, disagreeing with US District Judge Laurie Smith Camp of the US District Court for the District of Nebraska (See Victory For Women In Contraceptive Coverage Suit ), found that no civil rights violation had occurred because the plan didn’t pay for any contraceptives – either for men or women.
“Union Pacific’s health plans do not cover any contraception used by women such as birth control, sponges, diaphragms, intrauterine devices or tubal ligations or any contraception used by men such as condoms and vasectomies,” wrote Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender, for the 8 th Circuit. “Therefore, the coverage provided to women is not less favorable than that provided to men.”
The immediate issue for Union Pacific is moot since the company and its union agreed to begin covering contraceptives as part of the health plan after the 2003 filing of the suit prompting the latest 8 th Circuit ruling.
Plaintiffs Brandi Standridge and Kenya Phillips sued the railroad as part of what became a class action case alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA).
In the 8 th Circuit’s split 2 to 1 ruling , Gruender asserted that the PDA was not being violated by Union Pacific’s health coverage policy.
“We hold that the PDA does not encompass contraception,” Gruender wrote. “Contraception, like infertility treatments, is a treatment that is only indicated prior to pregnancy because contraception actually prevents pregnancy from occurring.”