Supreme Court Rules Against Women Workers

Women whose pension payments are reduced because they took pregnancy-related leave during their employment at a time when pregnancy discrimination wasn’t illegal aren’t entitled to full pension benefits now, the Supreme Court ruled today.

Noreen Hulteen and three other women sued AT&T because their pension benefits were lower than they would have been had the women received full credit for time worked for the company while they were on pregnancy-related leave — which was later required by law by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. "AT&T continued to deny them that credit when it set
their pension benefits many years later," the National Women’s Law Center explains. "The Court found that the
credits were determined as part of a ‘bona fide’ seniority system, and
thus could not be challenged under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of

The AP writes of the dissent:

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer dissented. By
making it illegal to discriminate against women on pregnancy leave,
"Congress intended no continuing reduction of women’s compensation,
pension benefits included, attributable to their placement on pregnancy
leave," said Ginsburg, the court’s only woman.

The case has repercussions far beyond the four women who sued AT&T, the AP explains:

The court’s decision could affect thousands of women who took
pregnancy leaves decades ago and now are headed toward retirement, said
Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law
Project. Now, the only way women who took pregnancy leave before 1979
can make their leave time count is through the good graces of their
company or through legislation by Congress, she said.


Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • progo35

    That is a bizarre ruling, particularly in this day and age.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • giovanna

    It is not that easy to become a woman especially if you are a working mom. That’s why there are some women today who would often choose to work at home. Everyone could use a few home office tips. A lot of people work from home, and having a good home office is paramount. One of the best home office tips is that you have to keep the office separated from the home. You could even put a cash advance to good use putting in a separate phone line and answering machine, or a get a consultant in to give some Feng Shui home office tips.

  • invalid-0

    The Supreme Court just ruled that if a woman took maternity leave before the landmark rulings in re: pregnancy discrimination, that their employers can dock their pensions. This has absolutely _nothing_ to do woth whether you commute to work of have a home office.

    Roberts and Alito have no concept of precedent or the law itself, and need to be impeached.