AT&T Sued for Pregnancy Discrimination

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 16, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

AT&T may need to change one of its plans -- the one that deals with employee pregnancy.

According to a proposed class-action, one of the company's subsidiaries discriminates against pregnant workers. Two class plaintiffs allege that they were fired under a plan that doesn't account for pregnancy-related leave.

Their attorneys claim that the plan "punishes women for being pregnant." AT&T says it does "not tolerate discrimination of any kind."

AT&T Mobility

The women, Katia Hills and Cynthia Allen, worked at different branches of AT&T Mobility in Indiana and Nevada. Their lawyers filed on behalf of all non-managerial employees of the AT&T subsidiary.

Representing the plaintiffs, the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers at Cohen Milstein said the case may affect attendance policies across the nation. So called "no-fault" policies assess demerits for unauthorized absences.

In the pregnancy discrimination case, Hills and Allen were absent before they took maternity leaves but disciplined afterwards because the pre-leave incidents counted toward accumulated demerits. The lawsuit claims the company violated both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

"They treat employees like cogs, but employees aren't cogs," said ACLU attorney Gillian Thomas. "They're human. They get pregnant, they get sick, they have families that need to be taken care of."

"A Little Scared"

Allen, a single mother, said she first worked for the company in New York and then transferred to Las Vegas. She took time off for pregancy-related illnesses in December 2016, then returned from maternity leave in February 2017.

According to the lawsuit, the company gave her a final notice upon her return for the pre-birth absences. She was fired a month later after she missed two days to deal with her newborn's medical emergencies.

"I was shocked and a little scared," she told ABC News. "I was worrying about how I'm going to pay the rent and take care of my son and be able to find another job."

The plaintiffs want AT&T to revise its attendance policy on pregnancy. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

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