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.
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