ADDRESSING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS IMPACT ON WORKERS
Workplace Fairness (WF) continues to be a voice and advocate for workers, their rights and their protection in the workplace. In response to the current conversation surrounding the overturn of Roe v. Wade, WF is providing resources and information for clarity on how workers might be impacted by the ruling.
Workplace Fairness believes in a person’s right to bodily autonomy and medical privacy, and maintains that no worker should be penalized for their decision to terminate a pregnancy or carry to term, regardless of the reason. Child-bearing individuals are essential to the workplace and our economy, and their role at work should be protected.
Historically, women and caregivers have been underpaid and underrepresented in the workplace as a result of the pay gap, the motherhood penalty, pregnancy discrimination, the increasingly high cost of childcare, lack of paid leave and the rising cost of living, all of which continue to challenge an individual’s ability to attain and sustain gainful employment. Most notably, during the pandemic, caregivers disproportionately carried the responsibility of being the main source of childcare and homeschooling, forcing many to leave their jobs or decrease to part-time hours. Today, there are still over 656,000 fewer women in the workforce than there were pre-pandemic. Restricting the ability for an individual to choose when and if they have a child has the potential to set the progress of women and individuals who can get pregnant back decades in the workplace.
Lack of access to abortion care unequally impacts individuals with lower incomes, marginalized groups, young people and those living in rural areas. Access is also dependent on what state you live in, how much money you make and your place of employment. While there are employment initiatives that assist working caregivers, they aren’t inclusive. In 2021, only 23% of workers had access to paid family leave and only 56% were eligible for FMLA.
Many employers are revisiting their coverage plans to provide more support for employees who may be impacted by restrictions. Some updates would allow coverage for travel expenses for out of state abortions and new parent benefits to help single or economically disadvantaged workers who are forced to carry to term. While some employers are reworking their benefits to support workers during this time, others may be cutting back on coverage to restrict coverage for family planning-related medical expenses. Because of this, employers should be transparent in any policy changes regarding reproductive rights, and workers should inquire about how employers might support new parents or protect workers who decide to terminate their pregnancy. Reproductive rights laws by state do and will vary widely, but as it stands, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects women from being fired for having an abortion or contemplating abortion according to the EEOC, making any employer retaliation on this subject illegal.
It is important to allow for open conversation in the workplace to ensure that workers are heard and protected following the ruling.
Workplace Fairness will be monitoring developments regarding reproductive rights issues and their impact in the workplace. To stay informed about your rights and new developments, visit this page.
About Workplace Fairness
Founded in 1994 as the National Employee Rights Institute, Workplace Fairness (WF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates and maintains a comprehensive, digital one-stop-shop for free and unbiased information about workers and their legal rights in the workplace. The organization provides resources on their award-winning website that resolve work-related issues and encourage policymakers, members of the business community, and the public at large to view the fair treatment of workers as both good business practice and sound public policy.
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