Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act

Summary: The Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act would guarantee that employers cannot take an adverse action against an employee based on the employee’s reproductive health decisions.

Background Summary

Employees should be judged by their performance at work, without regard to their personal, private health care decisions. Yet, in recent years there have been a number of bosses retaliating against employees for their reproductive health care decisions. Examples include:

In Wisconsin, when the state passed a law requiring insurance plans to cover contraception if they provided an otherwise comprehensive prescription drug package, the Catholic diocese told employees that if they used this benefit they would be fired.

A woman was fired from her teaching job at a Catholic school in Indiana after she requested time off to receive in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

Another teacher in Cincinnati was fired—supposedly for becoming pregnant without being married—although her employers later said that she was fired for becoming pregnant using in vitro fertilization.

Several women have been fired after they became pregnant without being married.

None of these women had any religious duties or responsibilities as part of their jobs. It is unfair that these women would be fired because of their personal decisions.

Some existing laws have been wrongly interpreted to not protect against discrimination based on reproductive health decisions. Many state and federal laws—especially those that protect against discrimination on the basis of sex or pregnancy—offer protections against reproductive health discrimination. Yet, bad decisions by courts and officials have created loopholes that leave women without a legal remedy.

Americans strongly favor legislation that keeps employers from interfering in their employees’ private reproductive health decisions. A poll of conservative and moderate states found that 67 percent favor, and 55 percent strongly favor, legislation that would bar employers from interfering in employees’ reproductive health decisions or discriminating against them because of their reproductive health decisions. In a nationwide poll, 91 percent agreed that a company should not be allowed to fire an unmarried employee who is pregnant because of the employer’s personal or religious beliefs.

Medical organizations strongly agree that bosses should play no role in employees’ reproductive health decisions. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court in 2014, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, American College of Nurse-Midwives, National Physicians Alliance, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and other major medical organizations agreed that “decisions regarding contraception have a profound impact on a woman’s health as well as on the health of her children. These important, private, medical decisions should be made by a patient in consultation with her health care provider. There is no role for a woman’s employer in these decisions.”

Real religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, based on their own beliefs. It does not give bosses the right to impose their beliefs on employees and their families. It is a matter of simple fairness. That is why we need legislation to protect the right of workers to make reproductive health care decisions without fear of losing their jobs.


Model Legislation

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act.”

SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:

1)      There have been a number of disturbing examples of bosses retaliating against or discriminating against employees because of the employee’s personal reproductive health care decisions.

2)      Employees have been threatened with termination if they use birth control.

3)      Employees have been fired or punished for using birth control, for undergoing in vitro fertilization in order to get pregnant, having sex outside of marriage, and having an abortion.

4)      It is unfair for employers to fire or discriminate against an employee on the basis of his or her decision about whether to prevent pregnancy or start a family; it is time for the state to make it clear that it is employment discrimination when bosses interfere in personal reproductive health care decisions.

(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to prevent employment discrimination.

SECTION 3. EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMINATION

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:

“Adverse employment action” means termination, demotion or refusal to promote or advance, loss of career specialty, reassignment to a different shift, reduction of wages or benefits, refusal to provide training opportunities or transfer to a different department, adverse administrative action, or any other penalty, disciplinary or retaliatory action.

(B) PROHIBITION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

1)      An employer shall not:

a)      Take any adverse employment action against an employee based on the use of any drug, device, or medical service related to reproductive health by the employee or the employee’s spouse or dependent.

b)      Require an employee to sign a waiver or other document which purports to deny an employee, or an employee’s spouse or dependents, the right to make his or her own reproductive health care decisions, including whether to use any particular drug, device or medical service.

c)      Take any adverse employment action in retaliation against an employee for asserting rights or remedies under this section.

2)      An employer that provides an employee handbook to its employees must include in the handbook notice of employees’ rights and remedies under this section.

(C) ENFORCEMENT

Violation of this section constitutes unlawful employment discrimination. All employment discrimination enforcement mechanisms under [cite the appropriate state law] shall apply.

SECTION 4. SEVERABILITY

The provisions of this Act shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision is declared to be invalid or is preempted by federal law or regulation, the validity of the remainder of this Act shall not be affected.

SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATE

This Act shall take effect on XXXX 1, 2016.

SHARE