Peggy Young, a pregnant UPS driver in Maryland, brought a doctor’s note to her employer stating that she could not lift more than 20 lbs. Her employer refused to honor the restriction—saying that light duty was only available to other classes of workers such as those injured on the job, those with disabilities recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and those who had lost their commercial driver’s licenses. Peggy Young sued for pregnancy discrimination and lost; the courts held that she wasn’t comparable to those workers who UPS accommodated.
If Ms. Young were seeking her accommodation today, the story might be much different. That’s because earlier today the Maryland governor just signed into law the Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers Act. Maryland’s law addresses a misreading of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which requires employers to treat pregnant workers the same as those “similar in their ability or inability to work.” Unfortunately, many courts around the country have held, like in Ms. Young’s case, that, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnant workers are not similar to workers in these other categories. As a result, many pregnant women in Maryland and around the country have been denied minor and inexpensive accommodations, forced onto unpaid leave, been fired, or had to continue to do tasks that posed risk to their pregnancies, even while workers with comparable limitations have been accommodated.
Similar to the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act, a bill proposed on the federal level the Center has written about many times before, Maryland’s new law takes the comparator issue off the table and simply requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant-related disabilities as long as such accommodations do not present an undue hardship to the employer. Read more »
There’s a lot to report on the minimum wage today, but I’ll start with the biggest news: the New York legislature has approved the state’s 2013-2014 budget, which includes a minimum wage increase. Specifically, the minimum wage will rise from $7.25 to $8.00 per hour on December 31, 2013, to $8.75 one year later, and $9.00 on December 31, 2015.
This is good news for minimum wage workers in New York, nearly two-thirds of whom are women. But the phased-in minimum wage increase in the budget is weaker than the increase that the state Assembly passed just a few weeks ago, which would have raised New York’s minimum wage to $9.00 per hour in one step in January 2014, then indexed the wage annually to keep up with inflation. The budget also drops a provision in the Assembly-passed bill that would have raised the minimum cash wage for tipped food service workers from $5.00 to $6.21 per hour, but it does provide a path to an increase for these workers by authorizing the labor commissioner to have a wage board examine the adequacy of New York’s tipped minimum wage, then issue an order to raise the wage. Read more »
Great news! Yesterday, a bill that will protect pregnant workers who need workplace accommodations passed in Maryland. This victory is due to the hard work of local advocates, especially the ACLU of Maryland. Now, when pregnant workers in Maryland need a simple accommodation to be able to continue to work safely – for example, a stool to sit on, or more frequent bathroom breaks – they will have clear-cut legal protection from being forced onto unpaid leave or even terminated. We have already seen the success of laws like these in protecting pregnant workers in states like California. Plus, experience shows accommodating pregnant workers, like accommodating individuals with disabilities, can be good for the bottom line. As a Maryland resident, I am very proud of my state. Read more »
Remember when a hot dog and a soda cost 39 cents? Yeah, neither do we.
We all know that restaurant prices rise nearly every year with inflation. The cost of everything from groceries to gas to rent rises, too. But many workers have not seen their wages rise in years, leaving them straining to make ends meet on paychecks that keep getting smaller relative to the cost of living.
For our neighbors in Maryland, the minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum, and the minimum cash wage for tipped workers is woefully low at $3.63 per hour (though higher than the federal floor of $2.13 per hour). If the minimum wage had risen with inflation over the past several decades, it would be close to $10.60 per hour today. But neither the minimum wage nor the tipped minimum wage is linked to inflation in Maryland, so the purchasing power of these extremely low wages erodes further each year.
Last Thursday, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in two cases concerning laws that would require Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) to disclose factual information about the services they offer.
Earlier this year, a divided three judge panel struck down a law in Baltimore, Maryland that required CPCs to post disclaimers in waiting rooms stating that they do not provide or make referrals for abortion or birth control services and a law in Montgomery County, Maryland that required CPCs to disclose that they do not have licensed medical professionals on staff and that the county encourages women who may be pregnant to consult with licensed medical personnel. Judge Robert King dissented in both cases. Read more »
Today is our last weekly roundup for February, which has been an interesting month. In today’s roundup, I’ve got an updates on the two reproductive rights bills in Virginia I told you about last week, some info on an exciting new video series we’re launching, good news (!) from Maryland, new Civil Rights museums, the outcome of the tragic Yeardley Love murder case, and a segment from last week’s Saturday Night Live. Read more »
The Family Planning Works Act expands the Medicaid family planning service program and is expected to give 33,000 low- and moderate-income women free access to a range of services, including birth control, STI testing, and cancer screenings. Read more »
Last week the winners of the first round of the Early Learning Challenge grant competition were announced.
The 9 states selected to receive the grant awards (California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington) have laid out comprehensive, collaborative strategies to achieve stronger early learning systems that increase low-income children’s access to high-quality early care and education.