AT&T faces pregnancy discrimination suit

The company says it's reviewing the complaint.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
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AT&T office New York City, USA: Signage and logo outside its

AT&T says it's reviewing a lawsuit that alleges the company unfairly discriminated against pregnant women.

Roberto Machado Noa/Getty

AT&T's attendance policies may have unfairly discriminated against pregnant women, according to a lawsuit filed by two former employees. 

Katia Hills and Cynthia Allen, who previously worked at AT&T Mobility, cited the business' "no fault" attendance policy, which assigns point-based demerits for late arrivals, early departures or absences. The lawsuit, which was announced by the American Civil Liberties Union, claims both women were fired for missing work due to pregnancy-related medical care. In one of the cases, one of the women had to miss work because of her infant son's emergency medical care. 

The lawsuit comes amid a broader ongoing national discussion over the right amount of leave parents should get for newborn children, and a recognition of the importance of parents spending more time at home in the early stages of childhood.

AT&T's policy exempts a number of absences from the point system -- ranging from jury duty to short-term disability -- but doesn't mention pregnancy, ACLU said. 

The ACLU said the women filed the suit on behalf of non-management employees of the company's corporate retail stores. 

"Workers aren't machines. They're human beings," said Gillian Thomas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Women's Rights Project and co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "AT&T Mobility's policy needs to change to recognize that reality and comply with the legal obligations that come with it."

AT&T said it's reviewing the complaint.

"We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, including for an employee's gender or pregnancy," the company said in an e-mailed statement.