JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
In 1978 Congress decided to overrule our decision in General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125 (1976), by amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy."
Petitioner's plan provides hospitalization and medical-surgical coverage for a defined category of employees
After the plan was amended in 1979, it provided the same hospitalization coverage for male and female employees themselves for all medical conditions, but it differentiated between female employees and spouses of male employees in its provision of pregnancy-related benefits.
After the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and before the amendment to petitioner's plan became effective, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued "interpretive guidelines" in the form of questions and answers.
On September 20, 1979, one of petitioner's male employees filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that petitioner had unlawfully refused to provide full insurance coverage for his wife's hospitalization caused by pregnancy; a month later the United Steelworkers filed a similar charge on behalf of other individuals. App. 15-18. Petitioner then commenced an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, challenging the Commission's guidelines and seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief. The complaint named the EEOC, the male employee, and the United Steelworkers of America as defendants. Id., at 5-14. Later the EEOC filed a civil action against petitioner alleging discrimination on the basis of sex against male employees in the company's provision of hospitalization benefits. Id., at 28-31. Concluding that the benefits of the new Act extended only to female employees, and not to spouses of male employees, the District Court held that petitioner's plan was lawful and enjoined enforcement of the EEOC guidelines relating to pregnancy benefits for employees' spouses. 510 F.Supp. 66
A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed, reasoning that since "the company's health insurance plan contains a distinction based on pregnancy that results in less complete medical coverage for male employees with spouses than for female employees with spouses, it is impermissible under the statute." 667 F. 2d, at 451. After rehearing the case en banc, the court reaffirmed the conclusion of the panel over the dissent of three judges who believed the statute was intended to protect female employees "in their ability or inability to work," and not to protect spouses of male employees. 682 F.2d 113 (1982). Because the important question presented by the case had been decided differently by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, EEOC v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., 680 F.2d 1243 (1982), we granted certiorari. 459 U.S. 1069 (1982).
Ultimately the question we must decide is whether petitioner has discriminated against its male employees with respect to their compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of their sex within the meaning of § 703(a)(1) of Title VII.
At issue in General Electric Co. v. Gilbert was the legality of a disability plan that provided the company's employees with weekly compensation during periods of disability resulting from nonoccupational causes. Because the plan excluded disabilities arising from pregnancy, the District Court and the Court of Appeals concluded that it discriminated against female employees because of their sex. This Court reversed.
After noting that Title VII does not define the term "discrimination," the Court applied an analysis derived from cases construing the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Id., at 133. The Gilbert opinion quoted at length from a footnote in Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974), a case which had upheld the constitutionality of excluding pregnancy coverage under California's disability insurance plan.
The dissenters in Gilbert took issue with the majority's assumption "that the Fourteenth Amendment standard of discrimination is coterminous with that applicable to Title VII." Id., at 154, n. 6 (BRENNAN, J., dissenting); id., at 160-161 (STEVENS, J., dissenting).
When Congress amended Title VII in 1978, it unambiguously expressed its disapproval of both the holding and the reasoning of the Court in the Gilbert decision. It incorporated a new subsection in the "definitions" applicable "[f]or the purposes of this subchapter." 42 U. S. C. § 2000e (1976 ed., Supp. V). The first clause of the Act states, quite simply: "The terms `because of sex' or `on the basis of sex' include, but are not limited to, because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." § 2000e-(k).
As petitioner argues, congressional discussion focused on the needs of female members of the work force rather than spouses of male employees. This does not create a "negative inference" limiting the scope of the Act to the specific problem that motivated its enactment. See United States v.
Section 703(a) makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to "discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin . . . ." 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-2(a) (1). Health insurance and other fringe benefits are "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment." Male as well as female employees are protected against discrimination. Thus, if a private employer were to provide complete health insurance coverage for the dependents of its female employees, and no coverage at all for the dependents of its male employees, it would violate Title VII.
Petitioner's practice is just as unlawful. Its plan provides limited pregnancy-related benefits for employees' wives, and affords more extensive coverage for employees' spouses for all other medical conditions requiring hospitalization. Thus
There is no merit to petitioner's argument that the prohibitions of Title VII do not extend to discrimination against pregnant spouses because the statute applies only to discrimination in employment. A two-step analysis demonstrates the fallacy in this contention. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act has now made clear that, for all Title VII purposes, discrimination based on a woman's pregnancy is, on its face, discrimination because of her sex. And since the sex of the spouse is always the opposite of the sex of the employee, it follows inexorably that discrimination against female spouses in the provision of fringe benefits is also discrimination against male employees. Cf. Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Ins. Co., 446 U.S. 142, 147 (1980).
In short, Congress' rejection of the premises of General Electric Co. v. Gilbert forecloses any claim that an insurance program excluding pregnancy coverage for female beneficiaries and providing complete coverage to similarly situated male beneficiaries does not discriminate on the basis of sex. Petitioner's plan is the mirror image of the plan at issue in Gilbert. The pregnancy limitation in this case violates Title VII by discriminating against male employees.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is
JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom JUSTICE POWELL joins, dissenting.
In General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125 (1976), we held that an exclusion of pregnancy from a disability-benefits
Today, the Court purports to find the latter by relying on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Pub. L. 95-555, 92 Stat. 2076, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e(k) (1976) ed., Supp. V), a statute that plainly speaks only of female employees affected by pregnancy and says nothing about spouses of male employees.
The Court recognizes that this provision is merely definitional and that "[u]ltimately the question we must decide is whether petitioner has discriminated against its male employees . . . because of their sex within the meaning of § 703(a)(1)" of the Title VII. Ante, at 675. Section 703(a)(1) provides in part:
It is undisputed that in § 703(a)(1) the word "individual" refers to an employee or applicant for employment. As modified by the first clause of the definitional provision of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the proscription in § 703(a)(1) is for discrimination "against any individual . . . because of such individual's . . . pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical
That this result was not inadvertent on the part of Congress is made very evident by the second clause of the Act, language that the Court essentially ignores in its opinion. When Congress in this clause further explained the proscription it was creating by saying that "women affected by pregnancy. . . shall be treated the same . . . other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work" it could not have been referring to female employees. The Court of Appeals below stands alone in thinking otherwise.
The Court concedes that this is a correct reading of the second clause. Ante, at 678, n. 14. Then in an apparent effort to escape the impact of this provision, the Court asserts that "[t]he meaning of the first clues is not limited by the specific language in the second clause." Ibid. I do not disagree. But this conclusion does not help the Court, for as explained above, when the definitional provision of the first clues is inserted in § 703(a)(1), it says the very same thing: the proscription added to Title VII applies only to female employees.
The plain language of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act leaves little room for the Court's conclusion that the Act was
When introducing the Senate Report on the bill that later became the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, its principal sponsor, Senator Williams, explained:
The Court trays to avoid the impact of this legislative history by saying that it "does not create a `negative inference' limiting the scope of the Act to the specific problem that motivated its enactment." Ante, at 679. This reasoning might have some force if the legislative history was silent on an arguably related issue. But the legislative history is not silent. The Senate Report provides:
The plainly disclaims any intention to deal with the issue presented in this case. Where Congress says that it would not want "to encourage" plans such as petitioner's, it cannot plausibly be argued that Congress has intended "to prohibit" such plans. Senator Williams was questioned on this point by Senator Hatch during discussions on the floor and his answers are to the same effect.
It seems to me that analysis of this case should end here. Under our decision in General Electric Co. v. Gilbert petitioner's exclusion of pregnancy benefits for male employee's spouses would not offend Title VII. Nothing in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was intended to reach beyond female employees. Thus, Gilbert controls and requires that we reverse the Court of Appeals. But it is here, at what
It would seem that the Court has refuted its own argument by recognizing that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act only clarifies the meaning of the phrases "because of sex" and "on the basis of sex," and says nothing concerning the definition of the word "discriminate."
The crux of the Court's reasoning is that even though the Pregnancy Discrimination Act redefines the phrases "because of sex" and "on the basis of sex" only to include discrimination against female employees affected by pregnancy, Congress also expressed its view that in Gilbert "the Supreme Court . . . erroneously interpreted congressional intent." Ante, at 679. See also ante, at 684. Somehow the Court then concludes that this renders all of Gilbert obsolete.
In support of its argument, the Court points to a few passages in congressional Reports and several statements by
Under our decision in General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, petitioner's exclusion of pregnancy benefits for male employees' spouses would not violate Title VII. Since nothing in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act even arguably reaches beyond female employees affected by pregnancy, Gilbert requires that we reverse the Court the Appeals. Because the Court concludes otherwise, I dissent.
"The terms `because of sex' or `on the basis of sex' include, but are not limited to, because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work, and nothing in section 2000e-2(h) of this title shall be interpreted to permit otherwise. . . ." § 2000e(k) (1976 ed., Supp. V).
"22. Q. Must an employer provide the same level of health insurance coverage for the pregnancy-related medical conditions of the spouses of male employees as it provides for its female employees?
"A. No. It is not necessary to provide the same level of coverage for the pregnancy-related medical conditions of spouses of male employees as for female employees. However, where the employer provides coverage for the medical conditions of the spouses of its employees, then the level of coverage for pregnancy-related medical conditions of the spouses of male employees must be the same as the level of coverage for all other medical conditions of the spouses of female employees. For example, if the employer covers employees for 100 percent of reasonable and customary expenses sustained for a medical condition, but only covers dependent spouses for 50 percent of reasonable and customary expenses for their medical conditions, the pregnancy-related expenses of the male employee's spouse must be covered at the 50 percent level." 44 Fed. Reg., at 23807-23808.
"It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer —
"(1) to fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin . . . ."
Although the 1978 Act makes clear that this language should be construed to prohibit discrimination against a female employee on the basis of her own pregnancy, it did not remove or limit Title VII's prohibition of discrimination on the basis of the sex of the employee — male or female — which was already present in the Act. As we explain infra, at 682-685, petitioner's plan discriminates against male employees on the basis of their sex.
" `The lack of identity between the excluded disability and gender as such under this insurance program becomes clear upon the most cursory analysis. The program divides potential recipients into two groups — pregnant women and nonpregnant persons. While the first group is exclusively female, the second includes members of both sexes.' [417 U. S.], at 496-497, n. 20." 429 U. S., at 134-135.
The principal emphasis in the text of the Geduldig opinion, unlike the quoted footnote, was on the reasonableness of the State's cost justifications for the classification in its insurance program. See n. 13, infra.
For statements expressly approving the views of the dissenting Justices that pregnancy discrimination is discrimination on the basis of sex, see Leg. Hist., at 18 (remarks of Sen. Bayh, Mar. 18, 1977, 123 Cong. Rec. 8144); 24 (remarks of Rep. Hawkins, Apr. 5, 1977, 123 Cong. Rec. 10582); 67 (remarks of Sen. Javits, Sept. 15, 1977, 123 Cong. Rec. 29387); 73 (remarks of Sen. Bayh, Sept. 16, 1977, 123 Cong. Rec. 29641); 134 (remarks of Sen. Mathias, Sept. 16, 1977, 123 Cong. Rec. 29663-29664); 168 (remarks of Rep. Sarasin, July 18, 1978, 124 Cong. Rec. 21436). See also Discrimination on the Basis of Pregnancy, 1977, Hearings on S. 995 before the Subcommittee on Labor of the Senate Committee on Human Resources, 95th Cong., 1st Sess., 13 (1977) (statement of Sen. Bayh); id., at 37, 51 (statement of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Drew S. Days).
This statement does not imply that the new statutory definition has no applicability; it merely acknowledges that the new definition does not itself resolve the question.
The dissent quotes extensive excerpts from an exchange on the Senate floor between Senators Hatch and Williams. Post, at 692-693. Taken in context, this colloquy clearly deals only with the second clause of the bill, see n. 14, supra, and Senator Williams, the principal sponsor of the legislation, addressed only the bill's effect on income maintenance plans. Leg. Hist., at 80. Senator Williams first stated, in response to Senator Hatch: "With regard to more maintenance plans for pregnancy-related disabilities, I do not see how this language could be misunderstood." Upon further inquiry from Senator Hatch, he replied: "If there is any ambiguity, with regard to income maintenance plans, I cannot see it." At the end of the same response, he stated: "It is narrowly drawn and would not give any employee the right to obtain income maintenance as a result of the pregnancy of someone who is not an employee." Ibid. These comments, which clearly limited the scope of Senator Williams' responses, are omitted from the dissent's lengthy quotation, post, at 692-693.
Other omitted portions of the colloquy make clear that it was logical to discuss the pregnancies of employees' spouses in connection with income maintenance plans. Senator Hatch asked, "what about the status of a woman coworker who is not pregnant but rides with a pregnant woman and cannot get to work once the pregnant female commences her maternity leave or the employed mother who stays home to nurse her pregnant daughter?" Leg. Hist., at 80. The reference to spouses of male employees must be understood in light of these hypothetical questions; it seems to address the situation in which a male employee wishes to take time off from work because his wife is pregnant.
During the course of the Senate debate on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Senator Bayh and Senator Cranston both expressed the belief that the new Act would prohibit the exclusion of pregnancy coverage for spouses if spouses were otherwise fully covered by an insurance plan. See id., at 29642, 29663. Because our holding relies on the 1978 legislation only to the extent that it unequivocally rejected the Gilbert decision, and ultimately we rely on our understanding of general Title VII principles, we attach no more significant to these two statements than to the many other comments by both Senators and Congressmen disapproving the Court's reasoning and conclusion in Gilbert. See n. 17, supra.
Similarly, in our Equal Protection Clause cases we have repeatedly held that, if the spouses of female employees receive less favorable treatment in the provision of benefits, the practice discriminates not only against the spouses but also against the female employees on the basis of sex. Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 688 (1973) (opinion of BRENNAN, J.) (increased quarters allowances and medical and dental benefits); id., at 691 (POWELL, J., concurring in judgment); Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636, 645 (1975) (Social Security benefits for surviving spouses); see also id., at 654-655 (POWELL, J., concurring); Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199, 207-208 (1977) (opinion of BRENNAN, J.) (Social Security benefits for surviving spouses); Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Ins. Co., 446 U.S. 142, 147 (1980) (workers' compensation death benefits for surviving spouses).
"An employment practice that requires 2,000 individuals to contribute more money into a fund than 10,000 other employees simply because each of them is a woman, rather than a man, is in direct conflict with both the language and the policy of the Act. Such a practice does not pass the simple test of whether the evidence shows `treatment of a person in a manner which but for that person's sex would be different.' It constitutes discrimination and is unlawful unless exempted by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or some other affirmative justification." 435 U. S., at 711.
The internal quotation was from Developments in the Law, Employment Discrimination and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 84 Harv. L. Rev. 1109, 1170 (1971).
The cost of providing complete health insurance coverage for the dependents of male employees, including pregnant wives, might exceed the cost of providing such coverage for the dependents of female employees. But although that type of cost differential may properly be analyzed in passing on the constitutionality of a State's health insurance plan, see Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974), no such justification is recognized under Title VII once discrimination has been shown. Manhart, 435 U. S., at 716-717; 29 CFR § 1604.9(e) (1982) ("It shall not be a defense under Title VII to a charge of sex discrimination in benefits that the cost of such benefits is greater with respect to one sex than the other").
The Court of Appeals' majority, responding to the dissent's reliance on this language, excused the import of the language by saying: "The statutory reference to `ability or inability to work' denotes disability and does not suggest that the spouse must be an employee of the employer providing the coverage. In fact, the statute says `as other persons not so affected'; it does not say `as other employees not so affected' " 667 F.2d 448, 450-551 (CA4 1982). This conclusion obviously does not comport with a common-sense understanding of the language. The logical explanation of Congress' reference to "persons" rather than "employees" is that Congress intended that the amendment should also apply to applicants for employment.
"The Act provides an essential protection for working women. The number of women in the labor force has increased dramatically in recent years. Most of these women are working or seeking work because of the economic need to support themselves or their families. It is expected that this trend of increasing participation by women in the workforce will continue in the future and that an increasing proportion of working women will be those who are mothers,. It is essential that these women and their children be fully protected against the harmful effects of unjust employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy." Id., at III.
See also 123 Cong. Rec. 7541 (1977), Leg. Hist., at 7 (remarks of Sen. Brooke); 123 Cong. Rec. 7541, 20663 (1977), Leg Hist., at 8, 134 (remarks of Sen. Mathias); 123 Cong. Rec. 29388 (1977), Leg. Hist., at 71 (remarks of Sen. Kennedy); 123 Cong. Rec. 29661 (1977), Leg. Hist., 126 (remarks of Sen. Biden); 123 Cong. Rec. 29663 (1977), Leg. Hist., at 132 (remarks of Sen. Cranston); 123 Cong. Rec. 29663 (1977), Leg. Hist., at 132 (remarks of Sen. Culver); 124 Cong. Rec. 31439 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 178 (remarks of Rep. Corrada); 12r Cong Rec. 21435, 38573 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 168, 207 (remarks of Rep. Hawkins); 124 Cong. Rec. 38574 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 208-209 (remarks of Rep. Sarasin); 124 Cong. Rec. 21440 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 180 (remarks of Rep. Chilsholm); 124 Cong Rec. 21440 (1978). Leg. Hist., 181 (remarks of Rep. LaFalce); 124 Cong. Rec. 21441 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 182 (remarks of Rep. Collins); 124 Cong. Rec. 21441 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 184 (remarks of Rep. Whalen); 124 Cong. Rec. 21442 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 185 (remarks of Rep. Burke); 124 Cong. 21442 (1978), Leg. Hist., at 185 (remarks of Rep. Tsongas).
The only indications arguably contrary to the views reflected in the Senate Report and the exchange between Senator Hatch and Williams are found in two isolated remarks by Senators Bayh and Cranston. 123 Cong. Rec. 29642, 29663 (1977), Leg. Hist., at 75, 131. These statements, however, concern these two Senators' views concerning Title VII sex discrimination as it existed prior to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Their conclusions are completely at odds with our decision in General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125 (1976), and are not entitled to deference here. We have consistently said: "The views of members of a later Congress, concerning different [unamended] sections of the Title VII . . . are entitled to little if any weight. It is the intent of the Congress that enacted [Title VII] in 1964 . . . that controls." Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 354, n. 39 (1977). See also Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 442 U.S. 397, 441, n. 11 (1979).