Two former employees of AT&T's mobile phone subsidiary have accused it of discriminating against pregnant retail store employees by having a companywide policy that penalizes them for absences or lateness related to pregnancy or childbirth, according to court papers filed Monday.
Plaintiff Katia Hills amended her July 2017 suit against AT&T Mobility Services LLC to add named plaintiff Cynthia Allen and to levy class action claims that the telecom giant violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by keeping in place an attendance policy for sales workers that is biased against women who are pregnant or recently had children.
More specifically, the suit alleges that AT&T disciplined and fired female employees, including the two named plaintiffs, after refusing to excuse absences for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions under the company's "sales attendance guidance" policy. The suit notes that the policy does excuse absences in a range of other categories, including jury duty and approved short-term disability.
“Although the SAG policy provides for excused absences, late arrivals, or early departures in 13 delineated situations … nowhere does the policy mention pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” the amended complaint says, noting that the policy applies companywide.
“Employers of course have every right to discipline employees who are habitually late or absent, but the law recognizes that pregnancy ... can't and shouldn't be penalized in the same way,” Kotagal said.
A representative for AT&T was not immediately available for comment Monday.
The plaintiffs are represented by Lenora M. Lapidus and Gillian L. Thomas of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, Joseph M. Sellers, Kalpana Kotagal and Miriam R. Nemeth of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and Lynn A. Toops Cohen & Malad LLP.
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