Charles Griffin was the manager of a farm for the Sisters of Saint Francis (the “Sisters”). He was terminated shortly after the Sisters discovered that he was responsible for the out-of-wedlock pregnancy of another employee. He claimed that it was this discovery that resulted in his termination. Griffin filed a charge with the EEOC and then filed suit under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Upholding a federal district court’s grant of summary judgment to the Sisters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (which covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) ruled that a terminated male employee’s claim under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) must fail, as a matter of law, because the PDA covers bias “because of sex,” not because of sexual activity or reproductive capacity. Griffin v. Sisters of St. Francis, Inc., Case No. 06-3312.
In denying the male manager’s claim, the Seventh Circuit relied on the express language of the PDA (e.g., “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employmentrelated purposes . . . as other persons”), the PDA’s legislative history, and cases from the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits. The Seventh Circuit did note that there were some circumstances in which a male could state a claim of sex discrimination under the PDA. However, the example given was a challenge by male employees to an employee-benefit plan that afforded greater pregnancy benefits to female employees than to pregnant wives of male employees. Otherwise, the PDA appears to be limited to claims by females. R