When Natasha Jackson asked her employer for a modest pregnancy accommodation to stay healthy and working, her employer instead forced her off the job as the highest ranking account executive at a Rent-A-Center. They pushed her onto unpaid leave and ultimately terminated her. Without steady income, she and her husband had to abandon their plan to buy a house and were left unable to support their growing family. But now, Natasha is advocating for change: this week, she headed to Capitol Hill to call on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, so women across the country no longer must face the impossible choice between their health and their economic security like she did. “I am asking you to stand up for women like me so we can have an equal opportunity to support our families while protecting our health,” Natasha said.
After drawn out litigation, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that the State’s attempts to pass legislation that prohibits cities from passing laws regarding benefits—including paid leave—violates Arizona’s paid sick and safe days ballot initiative and the Arizona Voter Protection Act. The Arizona Supreme Court has now settled the issue by refusing to interfere with the Court of Appeals decision. As a result, local governments in Arizona can pass paid leave and other benefits laws that build on all rights at the state level.
We speak with pregnant workers every day who face an impossible choice. What do I do if my doctor advises that I request a simple accommodation to maintain a healthy pregnancy, like a stool to sit on or assistance with heavy lifting, but my employer won’t provide them? Do I keep earning my paycheck when I need it most, or follow my doctor’s orders? The women featured here faced such a choice.
A key part of the BE HEARD Act includes expanding civil rights protections to all employees regardless of business size, and to non-employees like independent contractors, interns, and volunteers. It would also prohibit employers from forcing workers to sign blanket non-disclosure agreements upon accepting a job and provide employers with best practices for preventing sexual harassment. And, crucially, the law would end the so-called “severe or pervasive” standard—which sets an impossibly high bar for victims to meet in court—sending the message that no form of sexual harassment is okay.
Yanelia Ramirez, a nail salon worker. Pedro Gamboa, an airport worker. Jacqui Orie, a nanny. Ricarda, a laundry worker. Each of them share something in common: they work long, hard hours with no right to paid time off to attend important life events, spend time with their families, or simply relax. On September 9th, we were proud to join these workers in calling for New York City to pass a bill giving New Yorkers the right to earn 10 days of paid personal time at a rally on the steps of City Hall
Parents with school-aged children quickly learn to expect the unexpected. Yet too many working parents find themselves in impossible dilemmas when a child falls ill, or when school-related meetings and events arise, due to a lack of paid time off and inflexibility in their schedules. That’s why we’re fighting for policy solutions that ensure parents can be there for their children when they need to without risking their economic security.
Cities have long been at the frontlines in the fight to reform the modern workplace: local communities have led the way in adopting workplace solutions like paid sick time, living wage mandates, fair scheduling requirements, and LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policies. But in response, states are increasingly blocking, or “preempting,” local progress by stepping in and overturning progressive local laws or preventing cities from passing them in the first place.
Labor Day is a day for celebrating the achievements and hard work of the American workforce. Working families are the economic backbone of our country, and our policies should support and value them accordingly: all workers deserve fair wages, safe work environments free from harassment and discrimination, and the time and flexibility they need to care for themselves and their loved ones.
This Black Breastfeeding Week, we were thrilled to sit down with Dr. Flora Ukoli, M.D., MPH., IBCLC. Dr. Ukoli is a Professor of Community Medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, the first historically Black four-year medical school in the South. She is a World Health Organization Breastfeeding and Lactation Master Trainer, and has engaged in extensive Baby-Friendly breastfeeding promotion and advocacy in Nigeria and the United States.