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Pregnant Workers Look to Congress to Strengthen Supreme Court Win

Cross-posted from ACSLaw's blog

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court delivered an important victory for pregnant workers [PDF] when in a 6-3 ruling it revived Peggy Young’s pregnancy discrimination case against UPS and sent it back to the lower courts for further proceedings. In so ruling, the Supreme Court declined UPS’s invitation to read a key piece of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act completely out of the statute books. This decision should put employers on notice that when they exclude pregnant workers with medical needs from accommodations that they make for workers with disabilities or injuries, they do so at their legal peril. Nevertheless, the Court’s decision also requires a somewhat unpredictable and fact-intensive analysis of these sorts of pregnancy discrimination claims. As a result, individual pregnant women may still face real uncertainty as to their workplace rights, and individual employers may choose to take their chances in litigation rather than promptly providing accommodations to women who need them. Congress should act now to affirm and strengthen this decision, to ensure that no pregnant woman is forced to choose between her job and the health of her pregnancy. Read more »

Misclassification of Workers: Fraud, Plain and Simple

In his remarks at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages last month, Secretary Tom Perez spoke about how “[W]orkers are undercut by the abusive practice of misclassification. Let me be clear: when you improperly categorize your employees as independent contractors — stripping them of rights and benefits in the process, dodging your own tax obligations as an employer — what you're doing is committing fraud, plain and simple.”

Millions of women work in occupations that are most often misclassified, including child care and home health care. Employees who are wrongly classified as independent contractors are deprived of employment protections and entitlements, such as being paid the minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment benefits, and employer contributions to Social Security. In addition, the government loses out on revenue from payroll taxes that employers should have paid for those workers. Read more »

Maryland's Fair Employment Preservation Act Would Restore Strong Protections from Harassment

Sexual harassment remains a pervasive problem in the American workplace, with one in four women reporting being harassed on the job. Yet, in 2013, in Vance v. Ball State University, a narrow 5-to-4 majority of the Supreme Court watered down workplace protections from harassment. On Wednesday, the Maryland House Committee on Health and Government Oversight considered the Fair Employment Preservation Act (HB 42, SB 527)—a bill introduced by Delegate Rosenberg and Senator Raskin that would restore the strong protections from harassment that workers need. Adaku was there to testify for NWLC in support of this important legislation. Read more »

Maryland House Committee Holds Hearing on the Right to Earn Paid Sick Days

Today, the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee is having a hearing on the Healthy Working Families Act of 2015, which would provide Maryland workers with the right to earn paid sick days. NWLC submitted testimony in support of this important bill. Read more »

Take It From POTUS: It’s Time to Lead on Leave

Yesterday, the White House announced  it would take important steps toward ensuring that workers have the right to earn up to seven paid sick days a year and paid family and medical leave to care for their families. Specifically, the White House plans to call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act and on states and cities to pass similar laws; provide new funding to help states design their own paid family and medical leave programs; and increase the paid sick days and family and medical leave benefits available to federal employees.

This initiative will help all workers, but will be especially meaningful to women who still shoulder the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities. With more families counting on women’s wages than ever before, both women and men need to be able to take time off from work to welcome a new baby, to care for a sick child or elderly parent, or to address their own medical needs without suffering financial hardship as a result. As the President noted, “[N]o matter how sick they are, or how sick a family member is, they may find themselves having to choose to be able to buy groceries or pay the rent, or look after themselves or their children."  Read more »

Mach Mining v. EEOC: When Can an Employer Point Fingers to Avoid Defending Against a Discrimination Charge?

Today, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Mach Mining v. EEOC, a story about a woman who applied for a position as a miner with Mach Mining and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after she was denied the job. The EEOC investigated the company, and sued Mach Mining for systemic hiring discrimination against women on the basis that they have never hired a female miner. And yet the story being told at the Supreme Court today is not the one you think. It’s not about sex discrimination, it’s not about the company’s practices, it’s not about the fact that the share of women in the mining industry has remained shockingly low— less than one half of one percent—for decades, due in large part to the discrimination that blocks women from entering and staying in the field. Instead, the story is about whether the EEOC did enough to conciliate with Mach Mining before suing the company for sex discrimination, and whether that question is even reviewable by the courts. Conciliation is the process by which the EEOC must first attempt an informal resolution with the employer before filing a lawsuit in federal court. Read more »

Starve American Workers Act Is More Like It

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed H.R. 30, a bill to chip away at the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide health coverage for employees who work at least 30 hours a week, amending it so that employers would only be required to provide health insurance coverage to those who work 40 hours per week. Read more »

Save American Workers from H.R. 30

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will be voting on H.R. 30, a bill that would change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time work so that employers only have to offer health insurance to employees who regularly work 40 or more hours a week. Without this change, employers must offer coverage to employees who regularly work 30 or more hours a week.

These are four reasons H.R. 30 is bad for American women, American workers and American families. Read more »

When It Comes to Working Women, Young v. UPS May Finally Be the Court’s Chance to Get it Right

Cross-posted from the Alliance for Justice.

In the last couple of years, the Supreme Court has had a lot to say about working women. Unfortunately, none of it has been good.

In the past year and a half alone, the Court has made it harder for women to sue their employers for sexual harassment, limited the rights of home health care workers—who are nearly all women—to organize, and given bosses a religious trump card they can use to quash women’s rights to insurance coverage for birth control. But in the Young v. UPS case, which the Justices heard yesterday, the Court gets another chance to get it right.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s recent record on working women shows just how blind the justices have been to the realities of the workplace. Read more »

The Historic New Rule on LGBT Rights: Federal Contractors Can’t Discriminate Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

More lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples across the country have the right to marry than ever before. It is a rude awakening, though, that many of these individuals may walk into work after returning from their honeymoon to find that they have been fired for being gay. Read more »