Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for certain characteristics. One type of prohibited discrimination is that which is based on sex, and employers who violate this prohibition can be subject to civil lawsuits from employees, as well as other sanctions. It is vitally important that employers put into place policies and procedures that ensure that sex and other discrimination does not occur in the workplace in order to limit any legal exposure that they may have. It is important for any employer subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII to consult with an experienced St. Louis employment law attorney as soon as possible. McMahon Berger’s lawyers exclusively advise and represent management in the area of employment law, and are committed to helping our clients minimize their legal liability.
The Title VII protections regarding sex discrimination were expanded recently in a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding lactating women. In EEOC v. Houston Funding II, the court held that discriminating against an employee because she was lactating or expressing milk constitutes impermissible sex discrimination. In its opinion, the court reasoned that lactation was a medical condition that is related to pregnancy, and drawing analogies to precedent on menstruation, held that it was an aspect of female physiology. The decision does not require employers to provide accommodations to women who are affected by pregnancy, just that they are treated the same as other employees. The decision reversed a summary judgment order in favor of Houston Funding and remanded the case back to the district court.