Roe v Workplace: How Workplaces Are Responding to the Roe v Wade Overturning
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In light of the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many companies are rethinking workplace protections and benefits for their employees. After all, abortion regulations are now a state-by-state decision—and workplace leaders are struggling to find clarity about how these new laws will impact their teams and communities.
So, how are workplaces responding to the Roe v. Wade overturning?
In this article, we’ll look at the different types of responses we’ve seen—and share sample statements from various companies. But first, we’ll provide a bit of context—with a brief review of workplace benefits and protections before the Dobbs decision overturning Roe. Keep reading to learn more!
Workplace Protections for Reproductive Rights: The Basics
Almost 155 million people in the United States receive health insurance and other benefits through their employers—including nearly 60 million women. And with so many people counting on their workplaces to protect their health, the stakes have never been higher.
But are employers stepping up to the plate?
Below, we briefly review where employee protections and benefits stood prior to Roe’s overturning. We’ll also break down a few workplace values job seekers should look for as they navigate the current climate.
The State of Benefits Before Roe’s Overturning
An overhaul of employee benefits and protections in the workplace is long overdue. And perhaps unsurprisingly, this is especially true for reproductive health benefits and other policies that support women and families.
Of course, there have been some bright spots for women’s health over the last decade. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for example, all privately purchased health plans were newly required to cover maternity care. And most also cover preventive care—including cancer screenings, well-woman and prenatal visits, and contraceptives.
But in many cases, the buck stops there.
Unlike other high-income countries, the US has no federal requirement for paid parental leave. Coverage of infertility treatments is also hit or miss, and America is the only industrialized nation where the maternal mortality rate has increased since 1990. And when it comes to abortion? Employers are not required to provide coverage unless a mother’s life is in danger.
So, companies wanting to expand reproductive benefits for women after Roe’s overturning may have a long road ahead. But in the meanwhile, employees should be proactive and draw attention to workplace values recognizing their worth and offering much-needed support.
Workplace Values Employees Should Consider After Roe’s Overturning
As companies reevaluate workplace protections and benefits, employees would do well to advocate for the key values below.
Making the Workplace a Safe Space
Abortion is a sensitive topic, and discussions can quickly become heated. So, advocate for your workplace to function as a safe space where employees can share opposing views without judgment. Additionally, insist that your company emphasize workplace privacy for those who take advantage of new benefits—because not everyone will feel comfortable asking for help.
Clearly Communicating Changes to Benefits
There are many ways companies can support employees through the enhancement of benefits. For example, they can offer extra paid time off (PTO), provide stipends for out-of-state medical travel, cover legal expenses, or modify attendance and parental leave policies. But whatever policy changes your employer makes, they should be explicit about what is covered, who is covered, and how to access the new benefits.
For instance, your workplace should have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place—and ensure that employees know how to take advantage of it. You can also advocate for flexibility around work hours and location to gain more control over your schedule.
How Workplaces Are Responding to the Roe v Wade Overturning
So far, nearly 180 companies large and small have publicly responded to the overturning of Roe. Some have expressed their support for women’s reproductive rights. Others have opted to donate to organizations that support related causes. And many more have pledged to strengthen benefits and workplace protections for employees. Read on to learn more!
Response #1: Strengthening Employee Benefits
Most commonly, workplaces are responding to the Roe v Wade overturning by strengthening benefits and workplace protections for employees.
- The Walt Disney Company
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Levi Strauss & Co
How This Looks
Companies have taken various approaches to strengthening employee benefits, but the most common method involves reimbursement for medical and travel expenses related to reproductive healthcare. Another option? Expanding paid leave or covering childcare expenses. Additionally, several companies have pledged to cover legal fees for employees facing prosecution under newly restrictive abortion laws.
Levi Strauss & Co released a statement announcing reimbursement for healthcare-related travel expenses, including abortion. Notably, they shared that part-time hourly workers—who are not enrolled in the company benefits plan—can also seek reimbursement for travel costs.
Chobani similarly announced new coverage for out-of-state travel under its health plan, including lodging, transportation, and childcare costs for company employees and dependents.
And in a unique approach, Salesforce, Inc. offered to relocate employees out of Texas in response to the state’s 6-week ban on abortion. Additionally, rideshare companies Lyft and Uber have both committed to paying the legal fees of any drivers facing lawsuits under restrictive new abortion laws.
Response #2: Speaking Out Publicly
Numerous workplaces have responded to the Roe overturning through public statements. Some companies have also coupled their words with actions like charitable giving.
How This Looks
Some companies, like Johnson & Johnson, have publicly expressed support for an individual’s right to make their own healthcare decisions—without explicitly mentioning abortion. Others, like Ben & Jerry’s, have been more explicit in stating that Roe’s overturning goes against company values.
These companies are using a variety of platforms to speak out, ranging from Instagram and Twitter to local and national news sources. Some statements simply express company beliefs and values, while others go further—for instance, providing resources for supporting reproductive rights or encouraging customers to donate to progressive causes.
Shortly after the Dobbs decision overturning Roe, Johnson & Johnson released a statement that it strove to “put health within reach for the people we serve.” The company also added, “We also believe health care decisions are best determined by individuals in consultation with their health care provider.”
Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, long known for its progressive values, has been more outspoken. The company shared its support for the Women’s Health Protection Act in an interview, where it also affirmed that its insurance coverage includes abortion care. Additionally, it took to Twitter to share resources for supporting reproductive healthcare.
And underwear company Knix shared a social media statement expressing the belief that “choice is a fundamental human right.” They added, “Policies that restrict reproductive healthcare go against our core belief as a brand.”
Response #3: Donating to Organizations
Quite a few workplaces have chosen to respond to the overturning of Roe by donating to organizations and businesses that support reproductive freedom and women’s health.
How This Looks
Some companies have made their own donations to organizations advocating for reproductive freedom or providing women’s healthcare, such as Planned Parenthood (PP). Others have used their platform to encourage their customers to donate—or offered to match donations made by others.
In response to the Texas SB8 law, Lyft announced a $1 million donation to Planned Parenthood. The company also created a legal defense fund to cover 100% of legal fees for drivers sued under SB8. And they released an accompanying statement on their website explicitly stating that SB8 is “incompatible with people’s basic rights to privacy, our community guidelines, the spirit of rideshare, and our values as a company.”
Airbnb also took action in response to the Texas ban on abortions after six weeks. They announced donations to various reproductive rights organizations and pledged to support Airbnb hosts and employees implicated or impacted by the Texas law. Additionally, they reaffirmed that the company’s health insurance would continue to cover abortion care and related travel expenses.
Finally, Benefit Cosmetics took to Instagram to announce support for reproductive rights and a partnership with Planned Parenthood. The company also encouraged its followers to donate to PP and stated, “Reproductive rights are healthcare rights. Period.”
Roe v Workplace: Wrapping Up
The future of reproductive healthcare is uncertain, and the impact of Roe’s overturning will be felt nationwide. If companies want to alleviate employee stress and keep the workplace positive, they need to be clear about their position on reproductive healthcare—and the benefits and support they offer workers. Employees and job seekers should also view this as an opportunity to advocate for themselves and their values by making their voices heard.
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