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Media Alerts - Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Houston Funding II, Ltd. - Fifth Circuit
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May 31, 2013
  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Houston Funding II, Ltd. - Fifth Circuit
Headline: Fifth Circuit Rules that Discharging a Female Employee Because She Is Lactating or Expressing Breast Milk Constitutes Sex Discrimination.

Area of Law: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Issue Presented: Whether discharging a female employee because she is lactating or expressing breast milk constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Brief Summary: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Donnicia Venters, sued Houston Funding II, Ltd. and Houston Funding Corp. ("Houston Funding") for unlawfully discharging Venters because she was lactating and wanted to express milk at work. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted summary judgment for Houston Funding, holding that, as a matter of law, discharging a female employee because she is lactating or expressing milk does not constitute sex discrimination. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that discriminating against a woman who is lactating or expressing breast milk constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII and that lactation is a medical condition related to pregnancy for purposes of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Fifth Circuit found that the EEOC had stated a prima facie case and had further proffered evidence showing that Houston Funding's stated reason for discharging Venters (job abandonment) was pretextual. The Fifth Circuit noted that the record at this point does not involve a demand for special accommodations to allow pumping breast milk at work, and the court did not hold that Venters would be entitled to such accommodations. The Fifth Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings.

For the full opinion, please see: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/op...2/12-20220-CV0.wpd.pdf.

Panel: Circuit Judges Jolly, Jones, and Graves

Argument Date: 11/06/2012

Date of Issued Opinion: 05/30/2013

Docket Number: No. 12-20220

Decided: Vacated and remanded

Case Alert Author: Kirsty Davis

Counsel: Susan L.P. Starr for Plaintiff-Appellant Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Mark Joseph Oberti, Oberti Sullivan, L.L.P., for Defendant-Appellees Houston Funding II, Ltd. and Houston Funding Corp.

Author of Opinion: Judge Jolly (Judge Jones concurring in the judgment)

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Aaron-Andrew P. Bruhl

    Posted By: Aaron Bruhl @ 05/31/2013 11:16 AM     5th Circuit  

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