The Supreme Court today ruled that women who took maternity leave before it became illegal to discount that time from their pensions are not entitled to have it retroactively counted.

The 4 women of the case, who took maternity leave between 1969 and 1976 argued that each day of discounted pension pay counted as a new act of discrimination under the 1979 law that made such discrimination illegal in the first place, but only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer agreed. The rest of the Court sided with AT&T.

AT&T lawyers said their pension plan was legal when the women took pregnancy leave, so they shouldn't have to recalculate their retirement benefits now. Congress didn't make the Pregnancy Discrimination Act retroactive, they said, so the women shouldn't get any extra money.

The company also argued that, since the women didn't do anything about it years ago when it was announced (undoubtedly in small print in a much larger document), they shouldn't have standing to sue now.

Unsurprisingly, the Bush-era Justice Department sided with AT&T.

The Bush administration had urged the court to reverse the San Francisco-based appeals court, with Justice Department lawyers arguing that a decision favoring the women might harm other employees who could lose expected benefits if the company can't afford to put more money into the pension system.

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Aw, those poor companies who shouldn't be expected to quit discriminating because it would cost them money. So sad, really.

Court Rules Old Maternity Leave Doesn't Count Toward Pension [Wall Street Journal]