Faith Leaders Seek Legislation To Protect Pregnant Workers

September 2015 A coalition of Ohio faith leaders called on state lawmakers Wednesday to craft legislation that would allow pregnant employees to request reasonable work accommodations.

The Ohio Family Values clergy coalition kicked-off its legislative campaign during a Statehouse event where religious leaders stressed the importance of protecting female workers from what they called “pregnancy discrimination.”

Amanda Hoyt, a senior communications strategist for Faith in Public Life, said the coalition is pushing lawmakers to adopt legislation that would require employers to make temporary accommodations that they deem reasonable to aid pregnant workers.

Such accommodations, for example, could include allowing pregnant employees to take additional bathroom breaks or carry water bottles, Ms. Hoyt told reporters. Currently, pregnant workers may be fired or placed on unpaid disability for such things, she said.

While the coalition is not currently aware of any specific cases in which a woman has been fired due to her pregnancy in Ohio, nearly 1,700 complaints regarding pregnancy discrimination in the workplace have been filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission since the 1990s, she said. Of those, 60 found discrimination or probable cause and almost 700 were withdrawn or settled.

The coalition, Ms. Hoyt said, would like to dig deeper into researching the issue.

Rev. Joshua Stoxen, of Vineyard Central Church in Cincinnati, told reporters he was surprised to find that Ohio law doesn’t currently require such accommodations. The proposed legislation, he said, is a “common sense, bare minimum way to protect mothers and honor them during a crucial time.”

Calling such protections for pregnant women a moral issue, Mr. Stoxen pointed to the broad support the issue has received.

“People from both sides of the political spectrum agree that this is something that needs to be addressed,” he said. “We’re not asking for a lot, just for reasonable accommodations that allow pregnant women to continue working and not put the life of their child at risk.”

Rabbi Eric Woodward, of Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus, said Judaism teaches that humans have an obligation to create a social safety net and laws that protect the most vulnerable.

“As a person of faith, as a person who cares deeply about future generations – about what God really wants from us in the world – I’m deeply passionate about this law,” he said.

Rev. June Wilkins, of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Columbus, added that Ohio women shouldn’t be forced to choose between their jobs and pregnancies.

“Providing women with the ability and the right to work through their pregnancy without being discriminated against or forced to work in conditions that threaten their pregnancy or fired for seeking reasonable accommodations seems basically a no brainer,” she said.

According to Ms. Hoyt, efforts to pursue such legislation in Ohio come in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court case, Young v. United Parcel Service, regarding disparate treatment claims under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. A dozen other states, she said, have already adopted similar legislation.

Although no Ohio lawmakers are currently working with faith leaders on the issue, the coalition hopes that the legislative campaign will spark interest in pursuing such changes, Ms. Hoyt said.

More than 100 clergy from across the state have committed to passing anti-pregnancy discrimination legislation by signing the Compact for Ohio Families

Supreme Court Adopts Amended Rules, Forms Concerning Judicial Consent to Minor’s Abortion

December 17, 2014 By Bret Crow The Ohio Supreme Court has adopted amendments to rules and forms concerning judicial consent to an abortion by a minor without notification of a parent, guardian, or custodian. The changes bring the rules in line with recent legislative changes.

Amendments to the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio cover Sup.R. 23-25 and Forms 23-A through 25-A.

Am. H.B. 63 of the 129th General Assembly required courts to find by “clear and convincing evidence” whether the minor is sufficiently mature and well-enough informed to decide intelligently whether to have an abortion and whether the abortion is in the best interest of the minor. This new evidentiary standard was added to Sup.R. 23.1, Form 23.1-A, and Form 23.1-B.

Additionally, Sub. H.B. 247 of the 129th General Assembly eliminated the juvenile’s ability to file the petition or application for an abortion in the juvenile court in the county where the abortion will be performed. This option was deleted from the instructions for and Form 23-A, the instructions for and Form 23.1-A, and the instructions for Forms 24-A and 24-B.

The complete language of the amended rules and forms, which take effect January 1, 2015, is available on the court’s website.