LINCOLN, Neb. -- Union Pacific Railroad discriminated against women by not covering contraceptives in its healthcare plan, a federal judge has ruled.
US District Judge Laurie Smith Camp ruled in a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company discriminated by providing a range of preventive health benefits -- including impotence drugs -- but no contraceptive care.
The policy is discriminatory ''because it treats medical care women need to prevent pregnancy less favorably than it treats medical care needed to prevent other medical conditions that are no greater threat to . . . health than is pregnancy," the judge wrote.
Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said the ruling will be appealed because the decision to exclude contraceptives in the benefits package was negotiated with the company's unions. He said nonunion employees have had prescription contraceptive coverage for ''some time."
The lawsuit alleged that the railroad's action violated the federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers with 15 or more workers from making decisions based on gender or pregnancy.