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Supreme Court Decides Old Maternity Leave Doesn't Count

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Leave it up to the Supreme Court to decide that women who took maternity leave before it was illegal to discriminate against pregnant women can't sue to get their leave time to count towards their pensions. This ruling which was made on Monday, May 18, appeared in the Washington Post. It overturned a lower court decision which stated that decades-old maternity leaves should count in determining pensions.

The story behind this ruling involves four AT&T Corp. employees who took their maternity leave between 1968 and 1976, and who sued their company to get their leave time credited toward their pension. All of their pregnancies occurred before the 1979 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits companies from treating pregnancy leaves differently from "other disability leaves."

Lawyers for AT&T said that the pension plan was legal when the women went on pregnancy leave so they don't have to recalculate their retirements now. They maintained that Congress did not make the Pregnancy Discrimination Act retroactive.

A majority of the judges (all men) agreed with this. The only ones who dissented were Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

The United States is the only developed country in the world where women are not guaranteed a lengthy paid maternity leave. If women were given that right they wouldn't have to go through the hoops, hurdles and expenses of lawsuits in order to have what women in other industrialized nations and some developing nations get automatically, and that is the right to be treated in a fair and egalitarian manner when you are a working woman who becomes pregnant.

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