An Exciting New California Law Could Protect Women from Workplace Discrimination Over Their Reproductive Choices
Have you worried that aspects of your personal life, which have nothing to do with your job performance, have had a negative impact on your work situation because of a judgey boss? Yeah, same. But today, there’s good news: The state of California’s legislature is working on a bill that would make it illegal for employers to punish women for their reproductive health choices.
The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), or Assembly Bill 569, would prohibit employers from taking punitive action against workers who make reproductive health decisions they disagree with, such as using birth control, getting an abortion, or conceiving through in-vitro fertilization. The bill has passed and been sent to CA Governor Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign it into law on Thursday.
Back in May, a memo was released that stated that the Department of Housing and Human Services would be creating a rule that would allow religious organizations, non-profit, and even for-profit companies to cease offering coverage for birth control if the boss disagreed with the coverage use. Women have already been fired around the country for being unwed and pregnant and women’s health care has been throttled by many state legislatures.
Bill 569 also states that new hires cannot be forced to sign an employee code of conduct that questions personal reproductive health decisions at all. While it may seem surprising that anyone would be asked to sign such a thing in the first place, Refinery29 reports that it is fairly common among religious employers like religious schools and church organizations.
With many applauding the bold step, there are some detractors. California’s Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill, claiming that it would open the door to too much litigation clogging up the courts if an employee sued.
The California Family Council’s president Jonathan Keller also believes that the law doesn’t allow for religious objection or pro-life belief, telling Council members in a statement, “The right to freely exercise one’s religion is enshrined in our Constitution, and has always protected every American’s ability to freely associate around shared beliefs and practices. It is unconscionable for any politician to attempt to abridge this sacrosanct religious liberty by inserting themselves into the employee-employer relationship.”
Most other religious groups, however, are very much in favor of the bill, with a group of 16 Californian religious leaders sending a letter to the legislature asking for the bill to be passed back in March of this year.
“We represent millions of people of faith in California,” the letter read. “We believe access to healthcare is a basic human right. We affirm women as moral agents who have the capacity, right and responsibility to make their own decisions about sexuality, reproduction and their families. We support access to abortion, contraception and other reproductive health services, and oppose public policies that impose belief by religious fiat.”
Have reproductive health bills affected your work life? Tell us how @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)