Geduldig v. Aiello
Annotate this Case
417 U.S. 484 (1974)
U.S. Supreme Court
Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974)
Geduldig v. Aiello
Argued March 26, 1974
Decided June 17, 1974
417 U.S. 484
California has a disability insurance system for private employees temporarily disabled from working by an injury or illness not covered by workmen's compensation, under which an employee contributes to an Unemployment Compensation Disability Fund one percent of his salary up to an annual maximum of $85. A disability lasting less than eight days is not compensable, except when the employee is hospitalized. Benefits are not payable for a single disability exceeding 26 weeks. A disability resulting from an individual's court commitment as a dipsomaniac, drug addict, or sexual psychopath is not compensable, nor are certain disabilities attributable to pregnancy. Appellees, four women otherwise qualified under the program who have suffered employment disability because of pregnancies, only one of which was normal, challenged the pregnancy exclusion. A three-judge District Court upheld their contention that the exclusion violated the Equal Protection Clause. The court denied a motion to reconsider based on a state appellate court ruling, in which appellant who administers the program has acquiesced, confining the exclusion to only normal pregnancies. The California program, in terms of the level of benefits and risks insured, is structured to maintain the solvency of the Disability Fund at a one-percent annual level of contribution. The District Court acknowledged that coverage of disabilities resulting from normal pregnancies would entail substantial additional expense. But it concluded that this increased cost could be accommodated through adjustments in the rate of employee contribution, the maximum benefits payable, "and the other variables affecting the solvency of the program."
1. The appellate ruling and administrative guidelines excluding only normal pregnancies have mooted the case as to the three appellees who had abnormal pregnancies and whose claims have now been paid. Pp. 417 U. S. 491-492.
2. California's decision not to insure under its program the risk of disability resulting from normal pregnancy does not constitute an invidious discrimination violative of the Equal Protection Clause. The program does not discriminate with respect to the persons or groups eligible for its protection, and there is no evidence that it discriminates against any definable group or class in terms of the aggregate risk protection derived from the program. The sole contention is the asserted underinclusiveness of the program's coverage as a result of the exclusion of disabilities resulting from normal pregnancy. The State is not required by the Equal Protection Clause to sacrifice the self-supporting nature of the program, reduce the benefits payable for covered disabilities, or increase the maximum employee contribution rate just to provide protection against another risk of disability, such as normal pregnancy.
"[T]he Equal Protection Clause does not require that a State must choose between attacking every aspect of a problem or not attacking the problem at all."
359 F.Supp. 792, reversed.
STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 417 U. S. 497.