AB 568, AB 569, & AB 570 Would Add Strong New Legal Protection for Women in the Workplace
East County News Service
February 16, 2017 (Sacramento) – On Valentine’s Day, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) introduced a trio of heartfelt bills to protect working women who become pregnant.
The legislation would prohibit employers from discriminating against women for their reproductive health choices, ensure equity in workers’ compensation for pregnant women, and provide pregnancy leave for school employees in California rather than require that they use sick days or vacation.
“Men don’t get pregnant. They can’t get pregnant. As a result, many of our laws treat pregnancy and a woman’s reproductive decisions like something other than a natural part of her life,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “It’s hard to be pregnant in the workplace today, it’s hard to be a mother, but it’s for some reason all too easy for employers to cross the line into a woman’s personal life. We need to correct that imbalance if we are serious about gender equity in the workplace.”
The package of legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher addresses three specific challenges women have reported in the work place.
The first measure, AB 568, would require provide paid leave to teachers and school employees who become pregnant by requiring school districts to create a category of pregnancy leave and making it available to a pregnant employee, rather than requiring she use all of her accumulated sick leave and vacation time as family leave. It is sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers.
The second measure, AB 569, known as the Reproductive Health Non Discrimination Act, would make it illegal for employers to fire women for her reproductive health choices. Recently, women have reported being terminated or discriminated against by their employers for conceiving a child through fertility treatments, becoming pregnant without being married, or for simply using birth control, says Gonzalez-Fletcher. The bill is sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice California.
The third measure, AB 570, would prohibit California’s workers’ compensation system from allowing a woman’s current or past pregnancy to be used as a factor in minimizing the extent a worker’s injury was caused on the job. While current workers’ compensation law prohibits claims from being expressly denied because of an employee’s gender, age, religion or several other characteristics, female workers can be compensated less for the same injury than a male worker because conditions that only or predominately affect women, such as pregnancy, can be held against them during the apportionment process. The bill is sponsored by the California Association of Applicant Attorneys.
“There are employers who cross the line by invading the privacy and personal lives of the women who work for them, and far too often women are punished financially for becoming pregnant and having children. It’s unacceptable,” said Gonzalez Fletcher. “A woman should never face repercussions in the workplace for her reproductive choices.”
The three measures were introduced on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. They will be eligible for consideration next month.