8087 – No Pacifier for Pensions


If your pregnancy stunts the growth of your pension, can you do anything about it?  This case involved the question of whether pregnancy disability leave can be treated differently from regular disability leave when it comes to pension benefits and during the sixties and seventies, a large communications company gave employees who went out on disability full credit towards retirement.  But if you went out on pregnancy disability leave, that was treated as personal leave and capped at thirty days.  Now, if you’re thinking that’s really unfair and it should be illegal, well, you’re right; because it is unfair and it is now illegal.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate an employment because of pregnancy.  The question for the Supreme Court was whether it should be retroactive, and David Souter, in one of his final opinions, decided that it should not be, because although the practice would clearly violate the law today, an earlier case had held that different rules for pregnancy was not discrimination based on sex.  So, while life begins at conception, pensions begin when Congress says so.


AT&T Corp. v. Hulteen, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 07-543, May 18, 2009, Souter, J., Vol. 77, No. 44, Pg. 1699, 5-19-09