Oral argument: Dec. 10, 2008
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Aug. 17, 2007)
PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION ACT, PREGNANCY LEAVE, TITLE VII, CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964, SEX DISCRIMINATION
In 1987, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) to address the gap left by Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 (“Title VII”), which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex. Prior to passage of the PDA, AT&T’s seniority system treated pregnancy leaves as different from disability leaves: women who took time off for pregnancy lost net service credit (“NCS”), which, among other things, was—and still is—the principal factor used to calculate pensions. Following passage of the PDA in 1978, AT&T immediately ceased reducing the NCS of women who had taken pregnancy leaves. However, AT&T did not restore service credits to female employees who took pregnancy leaves prior to the PDA’s enactment. Hulteen et al., all female employees who took pregnancy leaves prior to the passage of the PDA, sued AT&T. The Ninth Circuit held that AT&T violated Title VII’s prohibition of sex-based discrimination by failing to restore service credits to female employees who took pregnancy leaves prior to the PDA’s enactment. Petitioners, AT&T, argue that this reading impermissibly gives retroactive effect to the PDA.