American Journal of Law & Medicine

Contraception coverage: employers may exclude contraception coverage from their health insurance plans - Standridge v. Union Pacific Railroad Company.

Contraception Coverage: Employers May Exclude Contraception Coverage from their Health Insurance Plans--Standridge v. Union Pacific Railroad Company (1)--The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently held that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 ("PDA") does not require employers to cover contraception as part of their health insurance plans. (2) The court further held that employers do not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), as amended by the PDA, by excluding contraception from their health insurance plans. (3)

Union Pacific Railroad Company ("Union Pacific") provided health care benefits to its employees through several different health plans. (4) These plans provided coverage for services such as routine doctor visits, tetanus shots, and drug and alcohol treatments. (5) The plans excluded, for both males and females, prescription and non-prescription contraception unless the contraception was medically necessary for a non-contraceptive purpose, such as treating skin problems. (6) Two of Union Pacific's female employees, Brandi Standridge and Kenya Phillips, brought suit against Union Pacific for sexual discrimination under Title VII. (7) Specifically, Standridge and Phillips alleged that Union Pacific discriminated against its female employees by failing to cover prescription contraception. (8)

Title VII provides, in pertinent part, that "[i]t shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer ... to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . …

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