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AT&T Corp. v. Noreen Hulteen et al.

556 U.S. 701, 129 S. Ct. 1962, 173 L. Ed. 2d 898 (2009)

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AT&T Corp. v. Noreen Hulteen et al.

United States Supreme Court

556 U.S. 701, 129 S. Ct. 1962, 173 L. Ed. 2d 898 (2009)

Facts

Prior to the enactment of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), AT&T Corporation (defendant) calculated employee pension benefits based on a seniority system. The system awarded service credits based on the length of a worker’s employment. Workers received full service credit for time spent on disability leave but only partial service credit for time spent on personal leave. Until 1977, pregnancy leave was classified as personal leave. In 1977, AT&T began classifying a woman’s first six weeks of pregnancy leave as disability leave; however, additional pregnancy leave was classified as personal leave. This policy resulted in reduced pension benefits for women who had taken pregnancy leave. In 1979, the PDA became effective, and AT&T’s revised its policy to classify all pregnancy leave as disability leave. Noreen Hulteen and three other female AT&T employees (women) (plaintiffs) sued AT&T, alleging sex discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The women argued that AT&T’s post-PDA pension-benefit calculations unlawfully incorporated discriminatory pre-PDA service-credit calculations, resulting in the women receiving pension benefits that were too low. The district court, following precedent established by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, held that AT&T had violated Title VII. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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