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Delva v. The Continental Group, Inc., Case No. SC12-2315 (Florida Supreme Court)

In Delva, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on the basis of pregnancy is prohibited by the provision of the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 (FCRA), Fla. Stat. 760.10, which makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate based on an individual’s sex. The Florida Supreme Court noted that in construing a statute, the Court attempts to give effect to the Legislature’s intent, looking first to the actual language in the statute and its plain meaning. Further, in construing FCRA, the Court is guided by the stated statutory purpose, which is to secure for all individuals within the state freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. While FCRA does not specifically include the word “pregnancy” in the classes of protected individuals, the Florida Supreme Court stressed that FCRA explicitly protects against discrimination against any individual because of such individual’s sex. As the Florida Supreme Court noted, pregnancy is a natural condition unique to women and a primary characteristic of the female sex. As such, the Florida Supreme Court found that “discrimination based on pregnancy is in fact discrimination based on sex because it is discrimination as to a natural condition unique to only one sex and that arises ‘because of [an] individual’s . . . sex.’” Liberally construing FCRA to further its purpose to ensure that women in Florida are free from discrimination based on sex, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that discrimination based on pregnancy is subsumed within the prohibition in FCRA against discrimination based on an individual’s sex.
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