Washington Approves Long Awaited Paid Family and Medical Leave

The Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 5975, providing for paid family and medical leave effective December 31, 2019.  Some key provisions of the new bill include:

  • Once the law goes into effect, you will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for family care-giving and 12 weeks of paid medical leave, with a combined annual cap of 16 weeks of paid leave. For those with pregnancy-related health complications, the cap is extended to 18 weeks. 
  • A key feature is portability; to be eligible, you have to have worked a threshold number of hours (820 hours in the qualifying period, which in most cases is the first 4 of the last 5 quarters), but the hours can be with different employers. Moreover, even self-employed individuals and independent contractors can elect coverage. 
  • The law also defines “family” broadly to include children, grandchildren, grandparents, parents, parents-in-law, siblings, and spouses – in recognition of the reality of family caregiving. 
  • The benefit is a progressive benefit; in other words, those who earn less will receive a larger percentage of their wage, while high-earning workers will receive a smaller percentage of their wage. 
  • The program will be funded by contributions from both employers and employees. Someone working full time at $13.50 an hour and making about $28,000 a year will pay $1.36 a week and the employer will pay $.80 week. Employers with 50 or fewer employees are exempt from paying the employer share of the premium. 
  • Employees of employers with 50 or more employees are entitled to be restored to the same or equivalent job, as with the FMLA. 

The text of the bill can be found here:http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/201718/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/5975-S.PL.pdf

Additional information, if desired, can be found on the Seattle Times webpage:http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/washington-legislature-passes-paid-family-leave-measure/

Woman Discriminated Against for Pregnancy Wins Over $300K

A Colorado woman recently won $306,000 after being discriminated against for being pregnant.  She was the former director of the Montrose County Internal Services division.  After speaking with her manager about transitioning to part-time work during her pregnancy, she was fired.  To make matters worse, weeks later she miscarried. 

Pregnancy discrimination is a real issue and can have monetary and emotional damages.  If you or anyone you know has been discriminated against, please contact us today.  We are here to help.


The Supreme Court Saves the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Today the Supreme Court made a positive affirmation of the importance of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Peggy Young claimed that her employer discriminated against her at work when it denied her a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy while other employees with similar physical limitations were granted accommodations. Ms. Young worked as a driver for UPS. When—after several miscarriages—Ms. Young finally became pregnant, her doctor instructed her to not lift more than a certain amount of weight at work. UPS, however, decided not to grant Ms. Young her medically mandated restriction and informed her that she could only continue working if she was able to lift the amount required in her job description. Ms. Young protested and requested a light-duty assignment; UPS denied her request. Consequently, Ms. Young was forced to take unpaid leave and, as a result, lost her health insurance. Ultimately, UPS allowed her to return only after she gave birth.

As a result of UPS’s decision to deny her a reasonable accommodation, Ms. Young sued, claiming that UPS had violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. A lower court, however, dismissed her claims. In the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Young v. UPS, the Court ruled that Ms. Young should have the opportunity to show that UPS illegally discriminated against her because of her pregnancy when it refused to provide her with an accommodation that was made available to her co-workers. The Court did not state that UPS’s conduct violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but it did clarify the law’s language. Despite the Court’s ruling, there are many issues that remain to be decide with regard to pregnancy discrimination.

Please contact us today if you or someone you know has been subject to discrimination.

Maternity Leave Still Difficult for Women

Many women in the U.S. still do not receive paid time off for maternity leave.  Unless you work for a company that voluntarily offers it or live in one of the three states that requires it, paid maternity leave does not exist.  The Family and Medical Leave Act grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year; however, this law only applies to full-time employees at companies larger than 50 employees.  This means that only about half of Americans are covered by the FMLA.

Paid leave is another issue.  Only 12% of Americans have access to paid leave according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as outlined in Bloomberg

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) in 2013 introduced the Family Act, which would make employers offer new parents three month paid leave at 66% salary; however, the bill has been stalled.  The current generation graduating from college does not experience the pay gap older generations have experienced.  The discrepancy grows as they get older and do not advance at the same pace as their male counterparts.  And, this seems to happen as women start to have children.

According to the U.N., the U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that don't have some form of legally mandated partially paid time off. If you or anyone you know feels you have been discriminated against due to pregnancy or not being allowed to take your full maternity leave, please contact us today.