AT&T Opposes MSJ in Pregnancy Discrimination Act Case

AT&T argued in an opposition that summary judgement is inappropriate in a Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) case brought by an ex-retail store employee. The Northern District of Indiana lawsuit concerns the plaintiff’s allegedly illegal termination following the birth of her child and stemming from her violation of AT&T Mobility Services LLC’s absence policy.

The plaintiff claims that leading up to her firing, she unfairly accrued demerit points for attending gynaecological appointments and visiting the emergency room during the final three weeks of her pregnancy. Last month, the former employee moved for partial summary judgment on the claim that AT&T’s attendance policy violates the PDA.

In last week’s opposition, AT&T said that there are genuine issues of material fact standing in the way of the plaintiff’s motion. The ex-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 opposition argued.

The company defended its policy, contending 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. Specifically, AT&T argued that the plaintiff’s attendance issues began before she became pregnant, and that when she was pregnant, she sometimes entirely failed to furnish the company with proper documentation of her pregnancy-related absences.

In addition to the facial neutrality of its policy, AT&T argues that the plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that the company treated non-pregnant employees any differently. AT&T said that the plaintiff argues that her store manager never used the company’s discretionary policy to excuse her pregnancy-related absences, but that she fails 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.’”

As such the company asserted that the plaintiff has not met her “high burden” at summary judgment. “On the record before this Court, a reasonable jury could certainly find that AT&T did not intentionally discriminate against Plaintiff,” the opposition said.

The former employee is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and AT&T by Paul Hastings LLP.