As the previous article indicates, prior to 1978, pregnancy discrimination was not legally a form of sex discrimination under Title VII. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) requires employers to treat pregnancy and maternity at least as favorably as other non-pregnancy related short-term disabilities. What happens when treatment of pregnancy that would now be considered illegal affects an employee’s current benefits? In a new case from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Sprint denied special early retirement benefits to an employee due to an insufficient term of service. The employee sued, claiming that Sprint should have taken into account a 1976 pregnancy for which she was given no service credit.
The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Sprint. The Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that Sprint’s denial constitutes a continuing violation of the PDA because the service determination is being made now, after the law became effective. The denial was a neutral act based upon an action that predated legislation making it illegal. There is no continuing violation of Title VII or the PDA based on the old action. This decision may be impacted by a case currently under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, the Court will decide whether current pay disparities based on alleged old sex discrimination constitute a continuing violation upon which a current discrimination claim can be based.