Women and Justice: Court: Florida 1st District Court of Appeal

Domestic Case Law

O'Loughlin v. Pinchback Florida 1st District Court of Appeal (1991)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

After disclosing her pregnancy to her employers, Pinchback, a correctional officer at a county jail, was terminated. As a reason for the termination, Sheriff O’Loughlin explained that while pregnant, Pinchback could not perform the duties of a correctional officer and was placing her baby’s health in danger. Pinchback petitioned Florida’s Human Rights Commission for relief pursuant to Florida’s Human Rights Act (which is patterned after Title VII). The Sheriff argued that Pinchback’s dismissal was based on the affirmative defense of “bona fide occupational qualification” (“BFOQ”), which requires that the employer demonstrate that the discrimination based on sex, religion, or national origin is “reasonably necessary to the normal operation” of the place of employment. The trial court found that the Sheriff violated Pinchback’s rights, which the appellate court upheld. The Court of Appeal explained that O’Loughlin’s actions were indefensible as there was no evidence that Pinchback (or any pregnant employee) could not perform her work as before. As a result, the court found Pinchback entitled to back pay and remanded the case for further proceedings to determine the back pay and benefits award.



Burton v. State Florida 1st District Court of Appeal (2010)

Custodial violence, Gender discrimination

Dubreuil proceedings (state legal proceedings used to compel a pregnant woman to undergo medical confinement, treatment, and procedures against her wishes for the benefit of the unborn fetus) were initiated against Burton on a finding that she had ignored her physician’s recommendations, creating a high-risk pregnancy that may result in the death of her baby. A Florida circuit court ordered Burton to forced medial treatment and confinement in a hospital until delivery. Holding that such a determination was inappropriate, the Court reasoned that all individuals have a fundamental right to privacy. The Court explained that Dubreuil proceedings were insufficient to compel a pregnant woman to forcibly undergo medical detention and treatment for the benefit of her unborn child. To overcome Burton’s right to refuse medical intervention in her pregnancy, the State must show a compelling interest and a method for pursuing that interest that is narrowly tailored. The State had failed to do so.



O’Loughlin v Pinchback Florida 1st District Court of Appeal (1991)

Gender discrimination

After disclosing her pregnancy to her employers, Pinchback, a correctional officer at a county jail, was terminated. As a reason for the termination, Sheriff O’Loughlin explained that while pregnant, Pinchback could not perform the duties of a correctional officer and was placing her baby’s health in danger. Pinchback petitioned Florida’s Human Rights Commission for relief, resulting in a finding that O’Loughlin had wrongfully terminated Pinchback in violation of Florida’s Human Rights Act. The Court upheld the determination, explaining that O’Loughlin’s actions were indefensible as there was no evidence that Pinchback (or any pregnant employee) could not perform her work as before. As a result, the Court found Pinchback entitled to back pay.