Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Verizon Pregnancy Discrimination Settlement

Verizon_logoPrevious posts have highlighted stories which have pointed to the increased incidence of pregnancy discrimination in the United States.

Now comes word of a whopping $49 million pregnancy discrimination settlement between Verizon and a large group of current and former female workers in thirteen different states.
From the EEOC Press Release (reprinted on At Work blog):

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today announced that, pursuant to a court-filed consent decree, telecommunications giant Verizon Communications, Inc. will pay approximately $48.9 million to 12,326 current and former female employees in 13 states and the District of Columbia as part of a 2002 settlement of a landmark class action lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination against Verizon predecessor telephone companies NYNEX and Bell Atlantic.

The suits alleged that the companies violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, by denying female employees service credit related to pregnancy and maternity leaves of absence taken between July 2, 1965 and April 28, 1979, and care for newborn children leaves of absence taken between July 2, 1965 and December 31, 1983.

And in case you think this is just an isolated incident of one bad-apple company engaging in impermissible behavior, consider that:

Pregnancy discrimination charge filings with the EEOC and state or local agencies nationwide have increased by 31% between fiscal years 1992 and 2005, from 3,385 to 4,449 filings. Charge Data (pre-litigation) are available [here].


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I don't understand how

(1) an increased number of EEOC _charges_ (as opposed to findings of discrimination) or

(2) the settlement of a case that involved conduct between 1965 and 1983

demonstrates that there is a current trend of increased discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. We need more evidence than this to conclude that there is a trend.

Posted by: Achilles | Jun 7, 2006 12:23:04 PM

Interesting news about an old case...

However I think that pregnancy benefits discriminate against women and make them less desirable employees, because those pregnancy benefits mandated by law are really an unfunded mandate by Congress.

They are in effect a tax, and a pretty hefty one, on hiring women.

But Congress is very fond of passing unfunded mandates, especially if they seem noble, even when they are counterproductive.

Posted by: Blissex | Jun 7, 2006 3:04:12 PM

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