Satty v. Nashville Gas Company, No. 74-288-NA-CV.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtMORTON
Citation384 F. Supp. 765
Docket NumberNo. 74-288-NA-CV.
Decision Date04 November 1974
PartiesNora D. SATTY v. NASHVILLE GAS COMPANY.

384 F. Supp. 765

Nora D. SATTY
v.
NASHVILLE GAS COMPANY.

No. 74-288-NA-CV.

United States District Court, M. D. Tennessee, Nashville Division.

November 4, 1974.


384 F. Supp. 766

Robert W. Weismueller, Jr., Tom H. Williams, Jr., Nashville, Tenn., for plaintiff.

Charles K. Wray, Bass, Berry & Sims, Nashville, Tenn., for defendant.

MEMORANDUM

MORTON, District Judge.

This cause of action was brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) alleging sex discrimination in defendant's employment policies with respect to pregnancy. Plaintiff seeks back wages, lost benefits, attorney's fees and injunctive relief. Plaintiff further alleges that her employment was terminated because she complained about the allegedly discriminatory policies.

There is no dispute as to the jurisdiction of this court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Originally the cause was brought as a class action. However, the parties stipulated that the number of persons whom plaintiff may properly represent is not sufficiently numerous to permit maintenance of a class action under Rule 23, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Simultaneously with filing of this action, plaintiff filed a motion for entry of a preliminary injunction requiring defendant to reinstate her as an employee and enjoining defendant from retaliatory measures. A hearing was held upon plaintiff's motion on July 10, 1974. At the close of the hearing, the court determined that a preliminary injunction would not be issued because plaintiff failed to establish that irreparable harm would be suffered by denial of the motion and it appeared that monetary damages could compensate plaintiff for any injury she might suffer.

The threshold question is whether or not defendant's employment policies, with respect to pregnancy, constitute unlawful sex discrimination.

I.

The parties have stipulated as to the following statement describing defendant's policy of health insurance:

As a condition of employment, every employee of Nashville Gas Company is required to be covered under a group life, health and accident policy issued by Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company. The cost of such policy is borne half by the Company and half by the employees. In addition to other health and hospitalization benefits, said policy also provides for payment of 50% of the customary and reasonable fees incurred in connection with pregnancy. Such pregnancy benefits apply to female employees and dependent wives of male employees. Although the insurance plan terminates with respect to an employee at the time such employee's active employment ceases, the maternity benefits continue to apply for up to nine months after termination and if such benefits would have been payable had delivery occurred on the date such active employment ceases.

Plaintiff's theory is that defendant's group insurance program discriminates on the basis of sex because a reduced benefit is paid in the case of pregnancy when compared with hospitalizations for other causes. There is no doubt that the insurance program makes a distinction in the case of pregnancy as to the extent of benefits available. However, the pregnancy distinction applies to both male and female employee-beneficiaries of the plan. The insurance proceeds are paid on behalf of the employee, male or female, according to a single formula in

384 F. Supp. 767
all pregnancy cases. Thus, for a male employee whose wife is pregnant, the insurance benefit is the same as provided to a pregnant female employee such as plaintiff

The parties further stipulated that pregnancy is a temporary disabling condition resulting from a normal bodily function. In this case the plaintiff had a normal pregnancy and childbirth. Also, the parties have agreed that defendant does not have a disability insurance plan for its employees. This is not a situation where a female employee receives a lesser benefit for her disability than those received by males. Defendant's insurance plan pays no benefit whatsoever for disabilities. The only benefit under defendant's insurance plan is for payment of medical expenses. The issue in this case is whether defendant's insurance program discriminates unlawfully between male and female employees in the payment of medical expenses.

No evidence has been introduced to show a failure on defendant's part to comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on fringe benefits. Title 29, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1604.9(d) provides:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to make available benefits for the wives and families of male employees where the same benefits are not made available for the husbands and families of female employees; or to make available benefits for the wives of male employees which are not available for female employees; or to make available benefits to the husbands of female employees which are not available for male employees. An example of such an unlawful employment practice is a situation in which wives of male employees receive maternity benefits while female employees receive no such benefits.

So far as the issue relating to the insurance program is concerned, the court finds no distinction in the application, operation, or effect of the insurance plan to support a finding of unlawful discrimination by reason of sex since all employees, male or female, receive the same benefit.

II.

It has been and is now the policy of defendant to require pregnant employees to take maternity leave. Although defendant's "Employee Policy Manual," of September 27, 1971, presents availability of maternity leave in permissive terms, to wit:

In case of pregnancy, an employee, upon written request may be granted a leave of absence . . . (emphasis added)

actual practice demonstrates that a pregnant employee may not decline to accept maternity leave, and still retain employee affiliation with the defendant company. Once an employee is placed in maternity leave status, she may remain in that status for up to one year. There is no statement of policy concerning the status of an employee on maternity leave who is unable to return to work after one year. A fair inference is that such an employee would be terminated.

Once an employee is classified as being in a leave status, i. e., leave of absence or pregnancy leave, it is defendant's policy to offer such an employee temporary work, when available, until a permanent position is open. After an employee returns from leave status and acquires permanent employment, the defendant credits such person with seniority previously accumulated for the purposes of pension, vacation, and other employee benefits based on seniority. However, defendant does not credit an employee returning from leave status who is subsequently classified as a temporary or permanent employee with previously accumulated seniority for the purpose of bidding on job openings. The significance of this policy is illustrated in the present case where plaintiff returned from pregnancy leave as a

384 F. Supp. 768
temporary employee after more than four (4) years of continuous employment, next preceding maternity leave, and defendant failed to place her in one of several permanent job openings. All of these openings were filled by other employees credited with greater job-bidding seniority even though plaintiff had the earlier date of initial employment. It appears that seniority is the primary factor in the job bidding process and failure to credit plaintiff with seniority for this purpose is the sole reason she failed to gain a permanent position with defendant following her return from maternity leave

Defendant asserts that the job bidding policies are the same for all employees, male or female, returning from a leave status.

The gravamen of defendant's contention is that only pregnant women are required to take leave. In all cases other than maternity the decision to take leave is entirely a voluntary matter with each employee.

It further appears that defendant maintains a policy of allowing leave in connection with non-work related illness or injury without loss of seniority or other indicia of good standing on the part of an employee where the non-work related disability does not concern pregnancy. It is only in the case of pregnancy that an employee is denied the opportunity to take "sick leave."

Defendant does not have a disability insurance plan for its employees, but does provide a specific number of sick leave days based on the employee's seniority. Employees, like plaintiff, who are placed on pregnancy leave are not paid for accumulated sick leave, but are paid for accumulated vacation time. Defendant's policy has been to allow employees who have been absent due to illness or non-work related disabilities to take "sick leave." Only in the case of pregnancy is an employee denied the right to take sick leave. It further appears that employees returning from long periods of absence due to non-job related injuries do not lose their seniority and in fact their seniority continues to accumulate while absent.

Defendant asserts that the classification of employees as pregnant employees and non-pregnant employees for application of the aforementioned policies does not constitute unlawful...

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6 practice notes
  • Smith v. Troyan, Nos. 73-2226
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 3 Julio 1975
    ...examinations and pap tests). Even if the height requirement is viewed as gender discrimination, see Satty v. Nashville Gas Co., 384 F.Supp. 765, 771 n. 1 (M.D.Tenn.1973), aff'd --- F.2d --- (6th Cir. 1975), it must be sustained if it "bears a rational relationship to a (legitimate) state ob......
  • Prescod v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 5 Abril 1976
    ...support of its discriminatory policy, we must, therefore, assume that no justification exists (cf. Satty v. Nashville Gas Company, D.C., 384 F.Supp. 765, 771). This violation of the applicable EEOC guidelines was not considered by the court below. Before the superior court where an applican......
  • Gilbert v. General Elec. Co., No. 74-1557
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 27 Junio 1975
    ...Cir. 1974) 506 F.2d 1400; Vineyard v. Hollister School District (D.C.Cal.1974) 64 F.R.D. 580; Satty v. Nashville Gas Co. (D.C.Tenn.1974) 384 F.Supp. 765; contra Newmon v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (D.C.Ga.1973) 374 F.Supp. 238, affirmed 5 Cir., 475 F.2d 12 The guidelines issued by the Equal Emp......
  • Nashville Gas Co. v. Satty, No. 76-536
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 6 Diciembre 1977
    ...violate Title VII of the Civil Page 138 Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V). 384 F.Supp. 765 (1974). The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. 522 F.2d 850 (1975). We granted certiorari 429 U.S. 1071, 97 S.Ct. 806, 50 L.E......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Smith v. Troyan, Nos. 73-2226
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 3 Julio 1975
    ...examinations and pap tests). Even if the height requirement is viewed as gender discrimination, see Satty v. Nashville Gas Co., 384 F.Supp. 765, 771 n. 1 (M.D.Tenn.1973), aff'd --- F.2d --- (6th Cir. 1975), it must be sustained if it "bears a rational relationship to a (legitimate) state ob......
  • Prescod v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 5 Abril 1976
    ...support of its discriminatory policy, we must, therefore, assume that no justification exists (cf. Satty v. Nashville Gas Company, D.C., 384 F.Supp. 765, 771). This violation of the applicable EEOC guidelines was not considered by the court below. Before the superior court where an applican......
  • Gilbert v. General Elec. Co., No. 74-1557
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 27 Junio 1975
    ...Cir. 1974) 506 F.2d 1400; Vineyard v. Hollister School District (D.C.Cal.1974) 64 F.R.D. 580; Satty v. Nashville Gas Co. (D.C.Tenn.1974) 384 F.Supp. 765; contra Newmon v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (D.C.Ga.1973) 374 F.Supp. 238, affirmed 5 Cir., 475 F.2d 12 The guidelines issued by the Equal Emp......
  • Nashville Gas Co. v. Satty, No. 76-536
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 6 Diciembre 1977
    ...violate Title VII of the Civil Page 138 Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V). 384 F.Supp. 765 (1974). The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. 522 F.2d 850 (1975). We granted certiorari 429 U.S. 1071, 97 S.Ct. 806, 50 L.E......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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