Health Physics Questions and Answers - Question 59

Question 59: How does the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of United Auto Workers (UAW) vs Johnson Controls affect the NRC requirement in 10 CFR 20.1208, "Dose to an embryo / fetus," and the guidance in Regulatory Guide 8.13, "Instruction Concerning Prenatal Exposure?"

Answer: That decision has no effect on either the requirement or the guide, which are consistent with that decision. (Reference: Letter from Bill M. Morris, NRC / RES, to William E. Morgan, the Boeing Company, August 2, 1991).

For the information of those not familiar with this decision, the Supreme Court in this case overturned a U.S. Court of Appeals decision. In its decision, the Supreme Court responded in the negative to the question, "May an employer exclude a fertile female employee from certain jobs because of its concern for the health of the fetus a woman might conceive?" The court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, forbids sex-specific fetal-protection policies. The majority of the court concluded with a very strong statement: "It is no more appropriate for the courts than it is for individual employers to decide whether a woman's reproductive role is more important to herself and her family than her economic role. Congress has left this choice to the woman as hers to make."

(References: 20.1208, Regulatory Guide 8.13)

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