On May 30th a unanimous decision was returned by the three Judges of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals which effectively overruled the lower court decision that granted summary judgment for the defendant C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc.; Fred Kohl and disagreed with the lower courts finding that the defendant, identified as “Jane Doe,” failed to show that her firing was connected to her decision to have an abortion.
In May of 2000 Jane Doe learned she was pregnant and promptly told her boss Mr. Kohl, the Vice-President of C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc. On August 7, 2000 Doe’s doctor called to tell Doe that problems were detected in a recent blood test and an amniocentesis was scheduled for the next day. Notification was given that Doe would not be in the office for the next two days while tests were performed. Kohl approved these absences. The fetus was found to have had severe deformities and Doe chose to terminate the pregnancy and the procedure was scheduled. Doe’s husband again telephoned requesting a week’s vacation and Doe’s husband testified that Kohl approved the vacation. The pregnancy was terminated on August 11th and a funeral for Doe’s baby was on Wednesday August 16th. Kohl gave Leona Dunnett, the office manager and the baby’s aunt permission to take an hour off work to attend the funeral and as she was preparing to leave for the funeral she noticed someone packing up Doe’s personal belongings from her desk. Leona told Doe what she had seen after the funeral. Doe called Kohl who told her she had been discharged. Kohl also remarked that Doe “did not want to take responsibility,” allowing the court to infer that Kohl was referring to Doe’s choice to terminate her pregnancy.
In the written decision released by the 3rd Circuit Judge Nygaard found that the written language of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, along with previous court decisions, supports a persons right to freely express support of a women’s right to choose as well as supports a woman’s right to receive an abortion without fear of discrimination, reprimand or termination in the work place. Judge Nygaard further writes that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act extends to women who have elected to terminate their pregnancies and applies to all situations in which women are “affected by pregnancy, child birth and related medical conditions.” Judge Nygaard holds that the term “other medical conditions” includes abortion.
Jennie, Duvall Intern
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