A measure that would bar employers from firing workers for having an abortion or giving birth to a child out of wedlock is getting pushback from religious groups who say such a bill would prevent them from requiring employees to act in accordance with their faith.
Under the bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), employers would not be able to discipline or fire workers for any reproductive health decision, such as pregnancy, in-vitro fertilization or abortion.
The proposal faces opposition from religious groups, who argue such codes of conduct are integral to the relationship with their workers.
“The bill would specifically deny religious employers our 1st Amendment protections to infuse our codes of conduct with the tenets of our faith,” said Sandra Palacios of the California Catholic Conference.
“An organization specifically chartered to support or oppose a specific set of beliefs or actions cannot fulfill its mission without requiring adherence to a code of conduct,” wrote Jonathan Keller, president of the conservative California Family Council, in an opposition letter.
“Our community covenant does say that our employees are required to uphold our biblical values, and that certainly is a ’round-the-clock priority for us,” responded Phillip Escamilla, the public policy chair of William Jessup University, a Sacramento-area evangelical Christian college.
Gonzalez Fletcher, herself a practicing Catholic, said she was not trying to unfairly target religious institutions. But, she said, she was trying to combat an “inherent sexism” that comes with enforcing such codes of conduct.
A female employee’s reproductive decisions — such as entering an abortion clinic or being pregnant out of wedlock — can be seen by her employer, Gonzalez Fletcher said.
“A male’s decisions to whether or not they’re going to abide by a conduct never rise to that level,” she said. “So that inherent difference in how women and men are treated with these types of decisions just show how little privacy women are able to maintain.”
The bill, AB 569, cleared the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, its first legislative threshold, on a 4-2 vote.
Full story at The LA Times.