Supreme Court Finds No Pregnancy or Sex Discrimination Based upon Employer’s Prior Pension Credit Policy

Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen, holding that an employer did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) through a seniority system for pension and other employee benefits that credited an employee with service while out on disability leave, but only provided partial credits to employees who had taken pregnancy leave.

The Supreme Court based its decision on the fact that at the time the employer calculated pension credits under the policy at issue, Congress had not yet enacted the PDA, which amended Title VII, making pregnancy discrimination illegal. As far as the Supreme Court was concerned, there was nothing illegal about the employer’s policy prior to the PDA’s enactment. (In fact, the employer suspended its policy in 1978 after the PDA was enacted.) Consequently, women who were subjected to the policy and suffered pension losses years later would not be able to recoup their losses through a claim for pregnancy discrimination.

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