Daily Labor Report®

AT&T to Face Second Class Pregnancy Suit Over Attendance Rules

Dec. 5, 2018, 9:00 PM

A worker at an AT&T Mobility store in Indiana may add classwide claims to her lawsuit alleging the company’s attendance policy for sales employees discriminates based on pregnancy, a federal judge ruled.

AT&T didn’t oppose Katia Hills’ motion to further amend her complaint in the case, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana said Dec. 4 in granting the motion.

Hills originally sued in July 2017 alleging she was unfairly assigned points under the company’s “Sales Attendance Guidance” policy for absences incurred in connection with a difficult pregnancy and then fired upon her return from maternity leave for having accrued too many points. She also says she was denied accommodation for her disability and that her federal medical leave rights were violated.

According to Hills, the SAG policy further discriminates against pregnant woman as a class because pregnancy isn’t included among its 13 categories of excused absences. She brings her class allegations on behalf all similarly situated non-exempt, non-managerial female employees in AT&T’s retail stores nationwide, according to her second amended complaint.

But the court denied Hills’ motion to add Cynthia Allen as a named plaintiff in the case. Allen’s claims don’t arise out of the same transaction or occurrence as Hills’, Magistrate Judge Michael G. Gotsch said.

They worked at different stores and for different supervisors, he said. They both were fired after accruing what they say were unfair points for pregnancy or child-rearing related absences or tardies, but each alleges that the discrimination was the product of conduct by their local supervisors and managers, the judge said.

The mere assertion of a companywide policy they say affects them and similarly situated women isn’t enough, Gitsch said. Their claims “turn on disparate evidence and witnesses” and thus don’t present the kind of common facts needed to join them together in one case.

That Allen has filed her own class action complaint against AT&T in federal court in Georgia doesn’t change things, the judge said. A class hasn’t been certified yet in either case and ultimately may not be, he said. The request to add Allen to Hills’ case must be analyzed at this point as “an ordinary case involving a single plaintiff attempting to add an additional plaintiff,” he said.

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, Cohen & Malad LLP, and the American Civil Liberties Union represent Hills and the proposed class. Paul Hastings LLP represents AT&T.

The case is Hills v. AT&T Mobility Servs., LLC, 2018 BL 446435, N.D. Ind., No. 3:17-cv-556, 12/4/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

To read more articles log in. To learn more about a subscription click here.