California residents who are trying to start a family while continuing to work may be interested to learn that on May 14, two women filed discrimination lawsuits against AT&T Mobility. The women claimed that the company fired them after they had pregnancy-related absences.
According to the lawsuit, which was being handled by the American Civil Liberties Union and attorneys for the women, the company assigns point-based demerits as part of their attendance policy. When an employee arrives late, leaves early or has an absence, the employee receives a certain amount of points. However, the women were terminated after they had to miss work due to pregnancy-related medical care. One of the women also had to miss work following a medical emergency with her infant. It was noted that while AT&T Mobility does have some exemptions, which include short-term disability and jury duty, no mentions of pregnancy are made.
Depending on the outcome of the lawsuit, there could be national implications for other companies that have similar attendance policies. These policies, known as “no-fault” attendance policies, have become popular for employers who have lower-echelon workers. Those who exceed a certain number of absences, regardless of the reasons, could face discipline or termination.
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, companies cannot discriminate against an employee for becoming pregnant. While there are certainly legitimate reasons for terminating an employee, firing or otherwise disciplining an employee for medical reasons beyond his or her control could have a negative impact on that employee’s career. An employee rights attorney may help a worker bring a lawsuit against a company if there are strong arguments and evidence that certain policies are discriminatory. Depending on the circumstances, the employee might seek compensation for loss of income and other associated damages.
Source: ABC News, “Lawsuit accuses AT&T Mobility of pregnancy discrimination”, David Crary, 05/14/2018