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.
Building on changes to paid family and medical leave that many states saw beginning in January 2020, July marks new developments as well. Beginning July 1, workers in Washington, D.C. will be able to take paid family and medical leave benefits under the District’s universal paid leave program—a much needed development as the country continues to battle with COVID-19. Also beginning July 1, workers in California will be able to take up to 8 weeks of family leave benefits in a 12-month period. Similarly, workers in New Jersey will see an increase in the amount of family leave benefits that they’ll be able to take.
Today, after years of advocacy, Tennessee becomes the 30th state in the country to provide stronger legal protections for pregnant workers. A Better Balance has been proud to lead the fight on the ground in Tennessee to enact the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act over the past six years, working closely with a strong coalition of local and state partners as well as providing drafting and legal support.
Though in recent years Pride has come to be known as a joyous celebration of the many shades of our beautiful LGBTQ community, Pride 2020 emphasizes the systemic struggles from which our celebrations originated. A Better Balance is committed to listening to and working with leaders and partners in the LGBTQ community and Black leaders nationwide to continue toward a better world for all. Our fights are not separate, and we stand together.
Today, we honor the millions of men in this country who care for children, and the millions more who provide care for an older family member or sick loved one. For dads and caregivers like Jeffrey everywhere, now more than ever, knowing their rights is critical. For example, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act covers many workers with paid sick leave to care for themselves and their loved ones when affected by the coronavirus, as well as paid family leave for use when a child’s school or place of care is closed.
June 19th marks the day in 1865 that Major General Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with the news that enslaved people in the U.S. were freed, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Juneteenth has since become a popular annual day of reflection and a celebration of freedom and resilience within the African American community, particularly across the South.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision on employment nondiscrimination that will provide critical protections for LGBTQ workers across the United States. The Court issued a 6-3 ruling in favor of the LGBTQ plaintiffs in Bostock, Zarda, and Harris Funeral Homes, three consolidated cases that challenged workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. In no uncertain terms, the Court’s decision signifies a major victory for equal rights, as the court held that “[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
On June 15, the Colorado General Assembly passed SB 205, which will guarantee that workers across the state can earn a modest amount of paid sick leave. The bill will allow workers to care for themselves or a family member when sick or experiencing domestic abuse or sexual assault. Colorado joins 12 states, Washington D.C., and dozens of cities in establishing a basic legal right to paid sick time.