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Employees file pregnancy discrimination lawsuit

A federal lawsuit filed by two former employees of AT&T Mobility could have implications for other companies in California and throughout the nation. The women claimed that they were terminated after missing work because of reasons related to their pregnancy. One of the plaintiffs alleges that she was terminated after missing work to care for her infant son.

The lawsuit says that the company had a system in which demerits were assigned for being late, leaving early or missing work entirely. Known as a "no-fault" attendance policy, the case is seen as a possible referendum of the legality of such a system. The plaintiffs say that the system is discriminatory against those who are pregnant and is therefore illegal. In addition to the two main plaintiffs, the case was filed on behalf of every woman who works at an AT&T Mobile retail location in a non-managerial role who may have had their rights violated as well.

The attorney for one of the plaintiffs acknowledged that employers have every right to punish employees who are late or absent. However, the attorney also acknowledged that absences related to a pregnancy should be treated differently under the law. Another attorney said that the employees are treated like cogs in a machine when they should be recognized as people who get sick, pregnant or have other needs to attend to.

Generally speaking, employers are not allowed to penalize pregnant workers for taking leave for valid issues related to their pregnancies. If a pregnant employee is treated differently because of her condition, that may be considered employment discrimination. An attorney may review a case to determine if employment discrimination occurred and decide on a course of action. This may include filing a lawsuit or trying to settle the case through negotiations.

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