TIME writes: "At a time when there are more women than men in the U.S. workforce, Bakst says implementing fair work-life standards—including pregnancy accommodations, paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and quality affordable childcare—is more important than ever: 'It’s absolutely essential for gender equality and for our nation’s economic security.'"
Our new publication, Families First: Workers' Voices During the Pandemic, features the narratives of dozens of workers we've spoken with through our free legal helpline who are struggling to protect their health, care for their families, and stay afloat economically during these unprecedented times. Featured within are stories from workers across 26 states, many of whom have been unable to access emergency leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) due to significant loopholes in the law, and are left with little recourse to avoid jeopardizing their health or their economic security.
BREAKING: Senator Warren has launched a Congressional inquiry about abusive employer attendance policies after learning about the harmful impact that “no fault” attendance policies at major companies have on low-wage workers in A Better Balance’s new report, Misled & Misinformed. On June 30, Senator Warren sent letters to five of the country’s largest employers — FedEx, Walmart, Conagra, 3M, and Kroger — as reported by VICE.
July 26th marked 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—a groundbreaking law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment, housing, and public spaces. Since its passage, the ADA has led to transformative changes in our workplaces and communities. Critically, the law guarantees workers with disabilities a right to the reasonable accommodations they need to stay healthy and working. Unfortunately, too many workers have been unable to access the protections they are legally entitled to under the ADA.
Mothers have long faced economic inequality in the United States. Early June marked Moms’ Equal Pay Day, symbolizing how long it took moms to earn what dads earned in 2019. U.S. Census data from 2019 indicated that women working full time in the U.S. earned $0.82 for every dollar that men made in their jobs. However, mothers make just $0.70 for every dollar white, non-Hispanic fathers make. The pandemic has only intensified the problem, as mothers are being forced to choose between their jobs and their caregiving responsibilities.
On July 14, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, which guarantees workers the right to earn paid sick time. A Better Balance was thrilled to play a pivotal role in the campaign. The victory in Colorado is especially significant given the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. Paid sick leave has been shown to improve public health, reduce the spread of contagion, and provide a critical safety net to workers who are struggling to make ends meet.
With many schools, camps, and child care facilities closed, millions of parents are left making impossible choices between raising their kids and earning a paycheck. This is not an individual issue. This is a systemic issue. And Congress must act now to put systems in place to support working parents.
The last few weeks have brought mixed news about court challenges to paid sick leave laws in Minnesota and Texas. To start with the good news: the Supreme Court of Minnesota handed down a decision on June 10, 2020 upholding Minneapolis’s paid sick leave ordinance, which was first enacted in 2017. The Court first held that the ordinance did not conflict with state law and affirmed the ability of localities in Minnesota to pass paid sick time laws.
In early April, New York State enacted an emergency paid sick leave law that allows workers with a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation in relation to COVID-19 (or who need to care for a minor child with such an order) to take paid leave from work. Since its passage, the law has exempted workers who were subject to quarantine because they traveled to certain countries for non-work-related reasons from the law’s protections. And recently, the law was changed to exempt certain workers who travel within the United States.
In reaching this decision, the Court adhered to its precedent, having found a nearly identical Texas law unconstitutional in the 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. This case is undoubtedly a victory, ensuring that those most impacted by these bans including low-income women, women of color, trans & non-binary people of color, and those in rural communities will retain access to critical services, but also serves as a reminder that we were only one vote away from precedent being overturned. More than that, attacks on reproductive health remain rampant.
Today, A Better Balance released a new report, “Misled & Misinformed,” detailing how the strict, “points-based” or “no fault” attendance policies favored by some of the country’s biggest employers—including Walmart and Tyson Foods—routinely violate workers’ rights. As businesses reopen and the public health threat posed by COVID-19 remains, these abusive attendance policies mean that despite important workplace civil rights laws, workers on the frontlines are forced to choose between their health and safety, and their job.