Four individual female Plaintiffs took pregnancy leave from their employer AT&T before 1979 when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (?PDA?) too effect. ?Prior to the PDA, T&T employees on pregnancy? leave? were? given? service? credit? for only a portion of their leave whereas employees on other temporary disability leaves were given credit for their entire leave.? ?The individual Plaintiffs and the Communication Workers of America sued AT&T for a present violation of their ?rights ?by ?failing? to ?give ?the ?women ?full credit for their pre-PDA leaves in determining their current eligibility for and computation of their retirement benefits.?? On cross motions for summary judgment, the district court ruled in the plaintiff?s favor concluding that Pallas v. Pacific?Bell, 940 F.2d 1324 (9th Cir. 1991), was controlling.?? On similar facts, the Pallas Court ruled that pre-PDA calculations using the very same system as AT&T to deny a woman who took pregnancy-related leave full service credit for ?that ?leave ?violated? the ?PDA ?retroactively. The Ninth Circuit reversed.?? It held that Pallas did not survive Landsraf v. USI Film Prods., 511 U.S. 244 (1994), which ruled that there is a presumption against statutory retroactivity in the absence of clear contrary congressional intent in the statute being considered. ?The Court found no such intent in the PDA.? ?Unpersuaded by the Plaintiffs? contention that they were not seeking retroactive application but rather relief from AT&T?s current discriminatory determinations of eligibility and computation of benefits, the Court explained: ??The proper focus is upon the time of the discriminatory acts, not upon the time at which consequences of the acts become most painful.? Plaintiffs argued that AT&T?s policy remains facially discriminatory so ?each application of the system to calculate benefits is a new act of discrimination?.?? ?But the Court rejected this argument too, holding that the plaintiffs are not similarly situated to male and female employees who took non-pregnancy disability leaves because prior to the enactment of the PDA it was legal to distinguish between the two groups. ?Based on its analysis of the timing of the violations, the Court held that any violations occurred with the initial accountings of Plaintiffs? pregnancy leaves or at the latest when Congress passed the PDA ? both in the ?1970s.???? Accordingly, ?the ?Court ?ruled, ?the statute of limitations barred the Plaintiffs? claims. A detailed dissent by Judge Rymer explained that Pallas survived Landsraf and should have controlled the outcome of the case.? ?Hulteen v. AT&T Corp., No. 04-16087 (March 8, 2006, Trott, Rymer, and Pager sitting by designation from Fed. Cir.).
Pregnancy Discrimination Act Does Not Require Pension Increases for Women Denied Credit for Pre-Act Pregnancy Leave Where Credit was Given for Non-pregnancy Leave
Mar 8, 2006