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Two women take on telecom giant for pregnancy discrimination

Women in New York and throughout the U.S. are challenging pregnancy discrimination practices of their employers. Two AT&T employees have filed a lawsuit against the major telecom alleging pregnancy discrimination. Due to attendance policies, the two employees were reprimanded and subsequently fired for missing work.

Both women were reportedly targeted for attendance policy violations due to late arrivals, absenteeism or early departures. The two plaintiffs assert that their absences were due to pregnancy-related medical appointments. The two women were terminated after repeated offenses.

The plaintiffs filed claims seeking redress for employees whose rights have been violated due to their pregnancies. A spokesperson from AT&T stated that the company does not tolerate discriminatory practices against women. Attorneys state that the company crossed the line in adopting attendance policies that unfairly discriminate against women.

The no-fault attendance policy is common among major companies; those who are found to be in violation of attendance policies risk disciplinary violations. Designed to identify employees with attendance issues, critics argue that the policy treats pregnant women unfairly. Women must seek care for themselves and their children once born, which leads to attendance policy violations. Some women feel as though they are being forced to choose between their children and their jobs.

One of the two women alleges that upon her return from maternity, she was terminated due to attendance policy occurrences. The lawsuit alleges that the policy violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA law provides up to 12 weeks of leave that is unpaid for those who have to personally tend to a medical condition of a family member or themselves.

Employers are encouraged to revisit their attendance policies to determine if they are promoting employment discrimination. This is to ensure that they aren't unfairly targeting women and protected groups. If a company is unsure about whether their attendance or any other policy violates federal law, a business attorney may be consulted to assess risks of employment discrimination. In consulting an attorney, the company may be able to develop fair policies.

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