Verizon Settles Pregnancy Bias Case for $49 Million

Verizon Settles Pregnancy Bias Case for $49 Million

Verizon Communications Inc. has agreed to pay nearly $49 million to settle lawsuits alleging that the company discriminated against pregnant women.

The settlement covers 12,326 women from 13 states and the District of Columbia who were denied full pension benefits by Verizon’s predecessor companies, Bell Atlantic and NYNEX.

The companies were accused of unlawful sex discrimination for failing to count time spent by women on pregnancy and maternity leave toward their workers’ pension plans from 1965 to 1979. The companies also neglected to count time taken for childcare leave until 1983.

“Employers should be aware that pregnancy discrimination in regard to benefits is just not acceptable,” said Spencer Lewis, New York district director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC filed the lawsuits in 1997 and 1999 against Bell Atlantic and NYNEX. The companies became known as Verizon in 2000.

The settlement was reached in 2002, but the amount of the award was not disclosed until last week.

According to the EEOC, Verizon has already paid more than $25 million and plans to pay another $23.6 in future pension benefits. The agency said that these amounts make the settlement the largest ever in a pregnancy-related lawsuit.

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