The U.S. Supreme Court has been very busy this morning.
First, in a 7-2 decision, the Court held that an employer (inthis case AT&T) did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it gave less retirement credit for pregnancy leaves that occurred prior to the passage of the act.
In addition, the Court found that because the company’s pension payments were in accord with a bona fide senior seniority system, they were insulated from challenge under Title VII.
You can read the court’s decision in AT&T v. Hulteen here (including an interesting dissent by the Court’s only female Justice, Justice Ginsburg.
The Workplace Prof blog did a good job at recapping oral argument several months back and predicting a fact-based decision. Ultimately, I think the decision is a bit of a surprise, particularly because it was not a close vote.
For employers who have long-standing pension plans, the decision provides some much needed clarity on what laws should apply for long-serving employees and whether the PDA applied retroactively. However, this decision is not going to have much impact for most employers because changes to the law in 1978 now require employers to treat pregnancy-related absences the same as other medically-related conditions.
In other business, the U.S. Supreme Court solicited the views of the U.S. government in the case of Lewis v. City of Chicago to decide the following question:
Where an employer adopts an employment practice that discriminates against African Americans in violation of Title VII’s disparate impact provision, must a plaintiff file an EEOC charge within 300 days after the announcement of the practice, or may a plaintiff file a charge within 300 days after the employer’s use of the discriminatory practice?
(Note: An earlier version of this post suggested that the court granted certiorari in the Lewis matter; that has been corrected.)