Companies Respond to Roe v. Wade Reversal
Workspan Daily
July 01, 2022

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn the landmark ruling Roe v. Wade, the list of companies offering abortion-related travel benefits continues to grow. Companies such as Amazon, Lyft and Uber announced well before the recent ruling that they would cover employees’ abortion-related legal and travel fees. In the past week, several others have followed suit, such as Alaska Airlines, which issued a June 24 memo to its 23,000-plus employees that the company would continue reimbursing travel for certain medical procedures and treatments if they were not available where an Alaska Airlines employee lives. The same day, Google chief people officer Fiona Cicconi sent a memo to employees informing them that the organization’s health-care plan will cover out-of-state abortions, telling workers that “Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation

And, within hours of the June 24 ruling, Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Lauren Hobart wrote in a LinkedIn post that the company would provide its employees up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to travel to the nearest location where that care is legally available. The benefit will be provided to any teammate, spouse or dependent enrolled in Dick’s medical plan, along with one support person. “We recognize people feel passionately about this topic, and that there are teammates and athletes who will not agree with this decision,” wrote Hobart. “However, we also recognize that decisions involving health and families are deeply personal and made with thoughtful consideration. We are making this decision to our teammates can access the same health-care options, regardless of where they live, and choose what is best for them.”

Bill Aims to Ban NDAs for Workplace Harassment Victims

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced the Speak Out Act, which would prohibit pre-dispute nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) in instances in which sexual harassment or sexual assault has been alleged in violation of Federal, Tribal or State law. Current law allows the use of NDAs to force employees and consumer to “sign away their rights to come forward about a future allegation of sexual harassment or assault. This results in silencing survivors and perpetuates illegal conduct,” said Rep. Lois Frankel from Florida’s 21st congressional district and a co-sponsor of the bill, in a statement. “Sexual harassment in the workplace forces many survivors to pass up on opportunities for advancement, leave their jobs or their industry altogether,” said Rep. Frankel. “By allowing their stories to be told without pre-imposed penalties, this bill will make workplaces across the country safer and more productive for employers, employees and consumers.” This past March, Congress eliminated pre-dispute forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and sexual harassment, “giving victims a choice of going to court or arbitration to obtain justice,” added fellow bill sponsor Rep. Ken Buck from Colorado’s 4th congressional district. “Now it’s time to end pre-dispute nondisclosure agreements, which silence victims of assault and harassment and prevent them from speaking out against the perpetrators.”

Whole Foods Workers Lose Appeal Over BLM Masks

A U.S. appeals court has ruled that Whole Foods employees cannot sue the grocery chain or its parent Inc. after being sent home without pay or disciplined for wearing Black Lives Matter face masks on the job, Reuters reports. In a 3-0 decision, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the employees failed to show that Whole Foods' enforcement of a previously unenforced dress code by banning the masks amounted to racial discrimination or violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Boston-based court said it was “pure conjecture” to suggest that racial bias drove Whole Foods into selectively enforcing its dress code, which also covered visible slogans, logos and ads unrelated to the company. The company’s timing “may be explained by the obvious alternative explanation that Whole Foods did not want to allow the mass expression of a controversial message by employees in their stores,” Circuit Judge Kermit Lipez wrote.

Yelp to Close Three U.S. Offices

After conducting an internal survey that found the majority of its employees prefer to primarily work remotely, Yelp is closing its Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. offices. The online review and reservation company also plans to downsize its Phoenix-based location. Yelp Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman shared some of the survey findings and the organization’s reasoning for the decision, telling employees that “the future of work at Yelp is remote.” Globally, about 1% of Yelp’s workforce “is choosing to come into the office every day,” said Stoppelman, noting that the average weekly utilization of available workspaces in the three soon-to-close U.S. offices was less than 2%. The aforementioned survey saw 86% of respondents saying they would prefer to work remotely most or all of the time, with 87% reporting that working remotely has made them more effective at work. In addition, 93% of Yelp employees and their managers polled said they can meet their goals working remotely. “We learned that we could not only effectively operate our business as a distributed remote workplace, but that our people could thrive and be just as, if not more, productive while remote,” Stoppelman wrote. “Employees are more satisfied working remotely as they can spend precious time they would have otherwise spent commuting doing the things they love with the people who mean the most to them.”

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