Andrea Lucas, a Republican commissioner on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has initiated a discrimination investigation against at least three companies that offer to cover their employees’ abortion-related travel.
Commissioner charges signed by Lucas allege that the employers are not offering equivalent benefits to pregnant and disabled workers, unfairly favoring workers seeking abortions, several lawyers with knowledge of the charges told Bloomberg Law.
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The charges will trigger an investigation, typically conducted by an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission district office. If the investigation finds that discrimination occurred based on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information, then the federal agency will try to settle with the employer, and if that doesn’t resolve the issue, the agency can sue.
The commissioner charges signed by Lucas, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump to the five-person bipartisan commission, is a power that the agency rarely uses, allowing a commissioner to launch charges on their own without other commissioners’ approval or knowledge. In fiscal 2020 and 2021 respectively, only three commissioner charges were signed.
Any individual, organization, or agency may also file a charge of discrimination against an employer, union, or labor organization that they believe engaged in employment discrimination, requesting that the commission take remedial action.
Lawyers with knowledge of the charges declined to say which employers had received the charges. If the investigation does find the companies engaged in discrimination, then other companies’ policies regarding abortion-related travel could be targeted.
Over 120 major employers in the U.S., such as Kroger, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Bumble, JPMorgan Chase, and Nike, have pledged to help cover travel for employees seeking abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which paved the way for states to restrict access to the procedure.
Streaming giant Netflix said it would offer a $10,000 lifetime allowance per employee for abortion-related travel, in addition to providing the benefit for travel related to labs 15m series pantera capitalmcsweeney, transplants, and cancer treatments.
More than half of U.S. Employers plan to offer abortion travel benefits to workers in 2023, including roughly 35% who already offer such benefits, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company of 350 U.S. Businesses.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission processes roughly 80,000 total job discrimination complaints each year.