EEOC Decision on Contraceptive Equity


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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Decision on Contraceptive Equity

The following Commission Decision finds reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occured under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, in two charges challenging the exclusion of prescription contraceptives from a health insurance plan. The Decision is a formal statement of Commission policy as applied to the facts at issue in these charges.

Summary of Charge
The Charging Parties, female employees of Respondents, allege that Respondents have engaged in an unlawful employment practice in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. (Title VII). Specifically, Charging Parties challenge Respondents' failure to offer insurance coverage for the cost of prescription contraceptive drugs and devices.

Respondents are employers within the meaning of Section 701(b) of the Act. All other jurisdictional requirements have also been met.

Summary of Investigation
Charging Party A, a registered nurse, began working for Respondent A in 1997. Under its health insurance plan, Respondent A covers numerous medical treatments and services, including prescription drugs, vaccinations, preventive medical care for children and adults, including pap smears and routine mammograms for women, and preventive dental care. Respondent A also covers the cost of surgical means of contraception, namely vasectomies and tubal ligations. However, Respondent A's plan excludes coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, whether they are used for birth control or for other medical purposes.

Charging Party A wishes to use oral contraceptives for birth control purposes. Based on her medical history, Charging Party A also wishes to use oral contraceptives to alleviate the symptoms of dysmenorrhea and pre-menstrual syndrome and to prevent the
development of ovarian cancer.

Charging Party B, a registered nurse, began her employment with Respondent B on May 1, 1999. Respondent B is commonly owned with Respondent A, and offers to its employees the same health insurance policy that Respondent A offers to its employees. As a result, Charging Party B is subject to the same exclusions from health coverage as Charging Party A. Charging Party B wishes to use Depo Provera, an injectible prescription contraceptive, for birth control purposes. Charging Parties both allege that Respondents' failure to offer coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices constitutes discrimination on the bases of sex and pregnancy in violation of Title VII. Respondents deny that the exclusion of prescription contraceptives, which on its face does not distinguish between men and women, is discriminatory...

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