ERIC memorandum template
ERIC
Judiciary

THE ERISA COMMITTEE

<nobr>Jun 24, 2008</nobr>

Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in AT&T v. Hulteen, as ERIC Had Urged

The Supreme Court yesterday (June 23) agreed to hear arguments in AT&T Corp. v Hulteen, a case that reflects a split among the circuit courts relating to the calculation of retirement benefits based on a system that predated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), and whether employers can continue using a pre-PDA formula for employees who took pregnancy leave before the Act came into effect.

ERIC on April 9 submitted a letter to the U.S. Solicitor General urging him to recommend the Supreme Court grant certiorari. ERIC argued that the Ninth Circuit decision is erroneous and that the requirements of the PDA do not apply retroactively. The Solicitor General, agreeing with ERIC's position, urged the Court to grant certiorari. The Solicitor's brief argued that the Ninth Circuit decision "gives an impermissible retroactive effect to the PDA by imposing liability on employers for refusing to credit leave before the PDA was enacted." In addition, the Solicitor said the appeals court's reasoning that AT&T was facilitating past discrimination "is directly foreclosed by" several Supreme Court decisions holding that only discriminatory acts, not continuing consequences, can be challenged under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Before PDA, many companies treated pregnancy leave as personal leave, rather than as disability leave, and women who took pregnancy leave were credited with seniority and service for pensions purposes for only a limited period of their pregnancy leave. The Ninth Circuit decision being appealed would require pension plans that did not provide for seniority and service credits prior to enactment of PDA to retroactively apply such credits when calculating benefits. Allowing the circuit court's decision to stand would create conflicting requirements for many ERIC members, and the ultimate result will undermine the defined benefit system further by reducing the confidence plan sponsor's have in their ability to estimate future benefit and funding obligations.

###

For more information:
Ted Godbout
Manager, Communications
The ERISA Industry Committee
1400 L Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 789-1400
Fax: (202) 789-1120
tgodbout@eric.org
www.eric.org
Websites:

ERIC Letter to Solicitor General

Petition for Certiorari

Reply Brief for Petitioner

Solicitor General's Brief

Ninth Circuit Decision


Back to Previous Page