As the Wetzel Court accurately pointed out, however, the Geduldig decision, while dealing with alleged sex discrimination, involved the issue only of whether such discrimination violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and did not involve, discuss, or resolve the issue of whether such discrimination violated Title VII. For this reason alone, the Wetzel Court said, reliance on Geduldig to resolve a Title VII issue was misplaced. Wetzel, 511 F.2d at p. 203.
Wetzel further distinguished Geduldig, involving a California state disability insurance program which did not cover disabilities relating to normal pregnancy, from the facts of its case. For one thing, Wetzel noted, the sources of funding the disability programs respectively in its case and Geduldig were different, and for another, the Liberty Mutual plan excluded disabilities resulting from all pregnancies while the program in Geduldig excluded only disabilities from "normal" pregnancies. Wetzel, 511 F.2d at p. 203.
In the instant case, the facts of the city's sick leave program are not precisely the same as the Wetzel facts, and consequently perhaps not as distinguishable from the facts of Geduldig. In the instant case, for example, the funds for sick leave benefits come presumably from the same source as all employee salaries, namely, general tax revenues. In addition, as noted in our statement of facts and similar to Geduldig's facts, the city's sick leave policy in this case in practice excludes only disabilities and absence from work resulting from normal pregnancies, while disabilities resulting from pregnancies with complications are covered.
We do not, however, think these factual differences from the case in Wetzel dictate a change in our conclusion that, under Wetzel, the Court's Geduldig decision does not control our decision in this case. As noted above, Wetzel held Geduldig inapplicable to the Title VII issue the Wetzel Court faced because Geduldig, argued and decided on Fourteenth Amendment grounds alone, simply did not deal with Title VII.
In light of this holding, the subsequent distinction by Wetzel of the facts of its case from those of Geduldig was unnecessary to the Wetzel Court's decision that Geduldig did not dispose of the Wetzel Title VII issue. Accordingly, the similarity or distinction of the facts of the employment program in question here from those in question in either Wetzel or Geduldig will not render Geduldig more or less applicable to the Title VII issue in the instant case. If, under Wetzel, Geduldig did not dispose of the Wetzel Title VII issue because Geduldig did not deal with Title VII, then Geduldig does not control the disposition of a Title VII issue in any case, whatever the facts of the employment program such latter case involves.
After holding Geduldig inapplicable to the Title VII issue then before the Court of Appeals, the Wetzel Court then proceeded with a statutory analysis of whether the income protection program in question violated Title VII.
First, the Court said, Title VII was enacted for the broad purpose of eliminating disparate or discriminatory treatment in employment, in the sense of artificial or arbitrary impediments, based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Wetzel, 511 F.2d at p. 204.
Second, the Court said, while the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex may originally have been offered in a less-than-serious manner, the failure of Congress to amend Title VII in subsequent years indicated that Congress intended the Act's broad purpose to prohibit discrimination to be applied as readily to discrimination on the basis of sex as to discrimination on the other expressly prohibited bases. Wetzel, 511 F.2d at p. 204.
Third, the Court said, to effectuate the goals of Title VII, Congress created the EEOC, and gave it the power to issue regulations or guidelines that would indicate the discriminatory practices the Act proscribed. These guidelines, said the Court, are the agency's interpretation of the statute, and consequently are to be given great deference except where application of the guideline would be inconsistent with an obvious congressional intent not to reach the employment practice in question.
The Wetzel Court then noted that certain of these guidelines issued by the EEOC prohibited an employer from discriminating, because of pregnancy, with respect to employment policies and fringe benefits. The guidelines to which the Court referred provided:
"§ 1604.9 Fringe Benefits.
"(a) 'Fringe benefits', as used herein, includes medical, hospital, accident, life insurance and retirement benefits; profit sharing and bonus plans; leave; and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.