Yesterday, the US Supreme Court announced that it would not hear an appeal in the case against Ameritech phone company, accused of discriminating against pregnant workers.
Ameritech denied job seniority to women workers who took pregnancy leave during the 1960s and 70s, resulting in women earning less retirement benefits today, despite the 1979 Pregnancy Discrimination Act that bars unequal treatment of pregnant employees.
The Supreme Court rejected arguments made by female Ameritech workers that relying on the pre-1979 pregnancy leave policy to deny or reduce benefits today amounts to discrimination against women.
Under the earlier policy, workers on pregnancy leave could only count 30 days of leave toward their seniority credit, which is used to calculate retirement benefits, while workers on leave for other disabilities received credit for the entire leave period. Ameritech changed their policy after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act became law, but did not re-calculate seniority credits for workers who took pregnancy leave pre-1979. Women employees have challenged the policy since 1991. In 1997, the company countered that it did not violate anti-discrimination laws; a Federal Judge agreed. The 7th US Circuit Court of appeals upheld the decision in July 2000, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case this week.