The D.C. Commission on Human Rights announced yesterday that it would continue to hear complaints of alleged discrimination against women whose employers exclude sick pay for pregnancy from company disability insurrance programs.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Dec. 7 that employers may legally exclude such benefits from company insurance programs because the exclusion does not violate tha 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on sex discrimination in employment.
In a written statement released yesterday, however, the city rights commission said that the high court's ruling would have no effect on the city's antidiscrimination law.
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The commission said the city's law would not be struck down by the Supreme Court decision because the local law explicity include martical status and pregnancy as bases for claiming discrimination.
"The only thing that would be binding on us would be our courts here," said A. Franklin Anderson, deputy director of the Office on Human Rights, which is the administrative arm of the commission. "We don't enforce a federal law. We enforce a local law."
Anderson said the uncertaintly leading up to the Supreme Court's ruling had placed "in limbo" local areas alleging discrimination because of the exclusion of pregnancy benefit.
There are about five such cases under investigation by the human rights office now, Anderson said. If the investigations find probably cause of discrimination, an employer can be made to pay some or all of the claims made by the complainant, he said.
The court's decision was seen as a major blow by women's rights groups across the country.
Anderson said yesterday that at least two other states have since decided that despite the court's decision, stronger local laws can be enforced.