Verizon Agrees to Pay Almost $50 Million in Pregnancy Suit

June 5, 2006 ( - Verizon Communications, Inc. has agreed to pay $48.9 million in credit to the pension accounts of thousands of former and current female employees who took pregnancy or maternity leave and were denied compensation, according to the Associated Press.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) submitted its final report today in US District Court in Manhattanthat Verizon has paid $25.3 million of the total settlement so far, according to the AP. The EEOC said Verizon will probably pay the rest — $23.6 million — in future pension benefits.

The EEOC filed suit against Verizon in 2002, alleging that the telecommunications company’s predecessors, Nynex and Bell Atlantic, discriminated against employees who were on pregnancy leave from 1965 to 1979 and maternity leave from 1965 to 1983, when the companies did not give these employees service credit for their time off. The settlement represents 12,326 current and former female employees in 13 states and the District of Columbia, according to the AP.

The EEOC alleged that Nynex and Bell Atlantic violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, according to a 2002 EEOC news release.

The EEOC estimated in 2002 that employees could receive benefits worth more than $10 million, one of the largest settlements ever on the issue. Verizon began changing its policy in 1978, when Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, making it illegal to fire, demote or refuse to hire women because they are pregnant (See Court Agreement Gives Verizon Women Pension Credits ). Under the law, expectant and new mothers in the work force are also entitled to the same benefits given to temporarily disabled employees.