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.
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 »
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Young v. UPS. When Peggy Young, a delivery driver for UPS, found out she was pregnant, her midwife recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds—but UPS denied her request for light duty, even though it offered accommodations to other drivers with non-pregnancy related limitations.
Many Supreme Court cases are decided by a narrow 5-4 majority. But this particular case should not be one of those squeakers. Peggy Young should win by a landslide. Here’s why: Read more »
In September, I attended a meeting of Respect the Bump, a group that formed when OurWalmart members began discussing online the troubles they had working at Walmart during their pregnancies. Women across the country told the same story; when they requested even minor accommodations for medical needs related to their pregnancies, Walmart denied the requests, forced them onto unpaid leave, or fired them. Walmart did this while accommodating workers with disabilities and on the job injuries. I was at the Respect the Bump meeting to conduct know-your-rights training with Elizabeth Gedmark of A Better Balance [PDF]. The women of Respect the Bump were charged with setting the agenda: we agreed to answer any questions they might have.
One of the topics the women were eager to discuss was Young v. UPS[PDF] and how they could help support the plaintiff, Peggy Young.The women were used to standing with other Walmart workers, but they told us they wanted to stand with Peggy Young as well. That’s because her case demonstrates just how widespread the problem of pregnancy discrimination remains. Read more »
As we close out National Work & Family month, it’s a good time to take stock of the strides made so far this year in the fight for fair schedules for working families. July saw the introduction of the federal Schedules that Work Act which would provide workers with more predictable and stable schedules, as well as a say in when they work. San Francisco stepped up to the plate next, with the Retail Workers Bill of Rights which would ensure fair scheduling practices and stable incomes for employees in the city’s chain fast food restaurants and retail stores. And earlier this summer, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer held a public forum on workers’ need for a voice in their schedules. Not to be outdone, a state senator in Michigan just introduced a fair scheduling bill [PDF] a couple of weeks ago. Read more »
I have a pretty cool grandmother. She is more current on culture than almost anyone I know, seeing every new film release before I have, always having an opinion on every political event as it happens. When Mad Men premiered in 2007 to widespread critical acclaim, I naturally asked my grandmother if she was watching. Her response: “I don’t need to watch it. I lived it.”
September 7 is National Grandparent’s Day, and thanks to the American Grandparents Association and the National Women’s Law Center, I was given the special opportunity to interview my grandmother about what it was like to be a working woman in America in the 1950s — what it truly meant to “live” Mad Men. Read more »
Have you ever heard of “clopening?” It’s when a worker has to close up the shop, store, or restaurant where they work late at night and then report for an early-morning shift just a few hours later. Stressful scheduling like clopening frequently occurs when employers use scheduling software designed to maximize profits—often at the expense of working mothers and their children. This week, the New York Times featured a front-page profile of Jannette Navarro, a mom who works as a barista at a Starbucks in New York City. Jannette’s story shows how the scheduling practices of major chains are unsustainable for moms who need child care, as well as highly detrimental to their children, who bear the brunt of a lack of stability.
The challenges for Jannette Navarro and many women like her begin with the scheduling software many companies use to determine employees’ shifts based on how much business they anticipate. This software enables companies to increase their profits by reducing labor costs, but it works, as the New York Times calls it, by “redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families.” Jannette typically received her always-changing schedule just three days in advance, leaving very little time to arrange child care for her 4-year-old son, Gavin. While Gavin could attend a preschool program during the day, shifts early in the morning or later in the evening forced Jannette to scramble to get a friend or relative to take care of him—and Gavin’s child center is not open on weekends. Furthermore, Jannette worried about losing access to child care because of her work schedule, since Gavin’s eligibility depended on her working a minimum number of hours, and she was always at risk of not getting enough. Read more »