Pregnancy Discrimination is back in the news, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in the case of AT&T v. Hulteen, No. 07-543. Employees who took maternity leave, pursuant to the company’s decades-old policy, were not given the same credit towards their pension as employees who took other kinds of disability leave.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was not enacted until 1979 and, since then, AT&T’s maternity leave has been credited toward retirement, in compliance with the law. At issue is whether AT&T must now give female retirees credit for maternity leave taken from 1968-1976, preceding enactment of the PDA.
The Ninth Circuit held that the benefits system violated the PDA. AT&T appealed and the Solicitor General recommended that cert be granted. The SCOTUS Blog covers AT&T v. Hulteen and provides more details as well as links to the previous filings.
A ruling against AT&T would seem to be contrary to the Court’s recent ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, related to the timeliness of discrimination claims whose effects may not be apparent for many years later. Further, it is generally held that statutes are not retroactive absent statutory language otherwise. In light of these precedents, a ruling in favor of the employees in this case may signal a real interest in this type of discrimination. Stay tuned!