If you are Unmarried or a Lesbian, 73 GOP Vote to Deny You Worker Pregnancy Rights

Readers of the MN Political Roundtable may recall a commentary from 2015 concerning the need to update The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. http://mnpoliticalroundtable.com/2015/07/02/john-kline-assigned-to-reform-pregnancy-discrimination-act/

The Supreme Court had problems with the then 35-year-old law which the courts interpreted to mean that if an employer treats their non-pregnant employees well, they must treat pregnant employees the same way. But if they treat their non-pregnant employees terribly, they have the right to treat their pregnant workers terribly as well. Sounds terrible doesn’t it … but did you know that OSHA rules state that toilets (which can include portable toilets) cannot be located no more than a quarter of a mile away from the workers … yeah, the regulations provide a lot of wiggle room for the employer.

The legislation had been assigned to John Kline to update … he did nothing.  After John Kline retired, his replacement on the Labor Committee, Virginia Foxx was charged with the assignment … she did nothing.

Their inaction meant that workers could lose their jobs if the boss wanted.  Case-in-point … maybe you have heard of Trump’s new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.  When DeJoy was CEO at New Breed/XPO, four women working for the company suffered miscarriages after supervisors refused their requests for light duty during their pregnancies. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/21/904346060/postmaster-general-faces-intense-scrutiny-amid-allegations-of-political-motives

So this term, with the Democrats in charge, they worked with Republicans to create a reform bill … H R 2694 The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. 

It was debated on Thursday, September 18th … and passed by a strong majority 329 – 73.

Gosh, why would anyone vote against a bill that had the support of the US Chamber of Commerce, the March of Dimes and many other groups.

Even some religious groups wrote a letter in support of the bill … Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Catholic Labor Network, National Council of Churches, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Pax Christi USA and many more. https://networklobby.org/20200904pwfa/

“Our faith traditions affirm the dignity of pregnant individuals and the moral imperative of ensuring their safety. We also affirm the dignity of work and the obligation to treat workers justly. It is immoral for an employer to force a worker to choose between a healthy pregnancy and earning a living. By passing the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694), Congress will ensure that workers who are pregnant will be treated fairly in the workforce and can continue earning income to support themselves and their families. Efforts to distract from the central goal of ensuring pregnant workers can maintain their health and the health of their pregnancies by inserting unnecessary, harmful, and politically divisive language into this bill undermines our obligation to protect pregnant workers across our country.”

So why would anyone vote NO ?  Simple answer … what if the “boss” didn’t like it that the pregnancy occurred outside of marriage ? Or, if the mother was a lesbian ? Or, if the person was of the wrong faith ? Those reasons could upset a boss whose religion said that was wrong … and to 73 Members it was more important to protect a boss’ “religious” concern … even if it meant that the fetus could result in a miscarriage.

Those voting NO were

Remember them on November 3rd … they do not belong in the 117th Congress.

Remember also that the Republicans controlled the House from 2015 until 2019 and if they were so concerned with protecting religious rights, they could have written the legislation … they did nothing … but too many women suffered.