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AT&T Pushing Back Against Proposed Summary Judgement in Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

— December 23, 2021

AT&T is arguing against a pregnancy discrimination suit filed by a former employee.

AT&T is pushing back against a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit that was filed by a former employee earlier this year. As part of the company’s opposition, it argued that “summary judgment is inappropriate in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) case.” The suit, which was filed in the Northern District of Indiana, alleged the plaintiff was illegally terminated from her position after the birth of her child. It also claimed that AT&T terminated her for violating the “AT&T Mobility Services LLC’s absence policy.”

Gavel and two hardbound books on wooden table; image by Succo, via
Gavel and two hardbound books on wooden table; image by Succo, via

So what happened? Well, according to the suit, the plaintiff “unfairly accrued demerit points for attending gynecological appointments and visiting the emergency room during the final three weeks of her pregnancy.” As a result of her treatment, the plaintiff made a move for “partial summary judgment on the claim that AT&T’s attendance policy violates the PDA.”

AT&T immediately pushed back against that request, though. In doing so, the company said “that there are genuine issues of material fact standing in the way of the plaintiff’s motion.” For example, the company said the former employee’s “bid is based on speculation and a flawed argument that AT&T violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act simply because it does not automatically excuse absences that may occur during pregnancy.”

The company also defended its absence policy and noted that “while it neither mandates pregnancy leave nor requires employers to excuse all absences, it requires AT&T to treat pregnant employees the same as others who are similar in the ability or inability to work.” AT&T argued the plaintiff’s attendance issues actually started far before she became pregnant, and noted that when “she was pregnant, she sometimes entirely failed to furnish the company with proper documentation of her pregnancy-related absences.”

On top of that, the company argued the plaintiff “failed to demonstrate that the company treated non-pregnant employees any differently” and that the former employee argued “that her store manager never used the company’s discretionary policy to excuse her pregnancy-related absences, but that she failed to mention that the manager only used it to remedy technical timecard errors, such as when a Sales Employee—pregnant or not pregnant—showed up to work but forgot to ‘punch in.’” Because of that, the company claimed the plaintiff failed to meet her “high burden at summary judgment.” It stated in its opposition, “On the record before this Court, a reasonable jury could certainly find that AT&T did not intentionally discriminate against Plaintiff.”

The  American Civil Liberties Union is representing the former employee, while Paul Hastings LLP is representing AT&T.


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