Large Class of Female Employees to Receive Benefits Estimated in Millions of Dollars
NEW YORK - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved a Consent Decree in a major class action lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination against Verizon predecessor telephone companies NYNEX and Bell Atlantic. Under the settlement, up to 12,500 current and former female employees in 13 states and the District of Columbia will receive benefits estimated in many millions of dollars that were previously not made available to them for discriminatory reasons related to pregnancy or maternity leave. The size of the class and estimated value of monetary benefits make this one of the largest EEOC settlements of its kind involving pregnancy-related service credit adjustments.
The Decree resolves lawsuits filed by the EEOC's New York District Office in 1997 and 1999 against Bell Atlantic and NYNEX (now Verizon) and their predecessor companies and related subsidiaries. The suits alleged that the companies violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, by denying female employees service credit related to pregnancy and maternity leaves of absence taken between July 2, 1965 and April 28, 1979, and CNC leaves of absence taken between July 2, 1965 and December 31, 1983.
"We commend Verizon for working cooperatively with the EEOC to bring an end to this case involving its predecessor companies," said Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez.
According to today's settlement, thousands of class members will be given between two and seven weeks of additional service credit per pregnancy depending on when the leave was taken. Some class members who missed out on early retirement incentive opportunities may receive between four and twelve weeks of enhanced service credit adjustments depending on the type of leave taken and the time period in which the leave was taken.
The Consent Decree covers all women employed at any time since January 8, 1994, by any former Bell Atlantic or NYNEX (now Verizon) company located in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and/or West Virginia, and who took a pregnancy or maternity-related leave of absence between July 2, 1965, and April 28, 1979, and/or a leave of absence for the care of a newborn child (CNC) between July 2, 1965, and December 31, 1983.
EEOC New York Regional Attorney Katherine E. Bissell said: "We hope this settlement sends a message to employers that women cannot be penalized for leaves of absence related to pregnancy and child care."
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination. In addition to prohibiting sex-based discrimination, Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin.
The EEOC also enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the EEOC and its "Freedom to Compete" campaign is available online at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on October 10, 2002.
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