Pregnancy Is a Protected Characteristic Under the Florida Civil Rights Act
In April 2014, the Florida Supreme Court, resolving the split in the Florida District Courts of Appeal, held that the Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”) prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of pregnancy. Delva v. Continental Group, Inc., 137 So. 3d 371 (Fla. 2014). In its 6-1 decision, the Supreme Court found that “the statutory phrase making it an ‘unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to discriminate . . . because of . . . sex,’ as used in the FCRA, includes discrimination based on pregnancy, which is a natural condition and primary characteristic unique to the female sex.” Potential liability exposure for employers under the FCRA is greater than under the federal pregnancy discrimination prohibition in that compensatory damages under the FCRA, unlike its federal counterpart, are uncapped. Worldwide and nationwide employers should also keep in mind that the FCRA has been interpreted to apply to companies employing as little as one employee in Florida so long as they have 15 or more employees anywhere in the world.