Keyword
in
Collection
Date
to
Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 6, June 1976 - July 1976
Page 12
Citation
MLA
APA
Chicago/Turabian
Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 6, June 1976 - July 1976 - Page 12. June 1976 - July 1976. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. August 4, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4211/show/4202.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(June 1976 - July 1976). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 6, June 1976 - July 1976 - Page 12. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4211/show/4202

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 6, June 1976 - July 1976 - Page 12, June 1976 - July 1976, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed August 4, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4211/show/4202.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

URL
Embed Image
Compound Item Description
Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 1, No. 6, June 1976 - July 1976
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date June 1976 - July 1976
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 12
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name femin_201109_518l.jpg
Transcript Portia's Law Last month Patti O'Kane reported on the widespread and illegal discrimination against employed pregnant women. This month O'Kane examines the subject further. by Patti O' Kane I have already noted that a maternity leave of absence, whether voluntary or enforced, is almost always without pay. But that is not all. While employers differ in the regulations they enforce concerning conditions of maternity leave, they are all alike in treating leave for childbirth in a radically different manner than any other kind of leave. Thus, some employers permit use of sick time, vacation, or compensatory time; some do not. Some permit the accrual of seniority, pension rights, and other privileges of employment during leave; others do not. Some hold the job o- pen; others promise only an equal or comparable job; some promise nothing. For many women, the use of accumulated paid sick leave Nwould mean no interruption of income during the few weeks they are forced to be absent from work. Many employers forbid this because they maintain that childbirth is not an illness. Of course it is not, but women in childbirth are temporarily physically incapacitated ; they are at first hospitalized and later under a doctor's care. Those conditions are usually thought to be sufficient to justify the use of paid sick leave. Some employers can see half the argument by allowing women to use sick leave to cover absences for complications of childbirth, but not for normal childbirth. The unavailability of paid sick leave to cover childbirth in many companies means that the woman's salary will cease while she is out; but that's not the only thing affected, for the accumulation of seniority, pension benefits, and the like is frozen during unpaid leaves of absences. Seniority and benefits are not affected, however, by ^fclinary sick leave, and this/fact can be important in hiahly structured employment /where seniority may be the key to advancement opportunity. It is sometimes said that to allow sick leave for childbirth would be to show favoritism to women and to discriminate against men. Yet many employers give special consideration to exclusively male functions. It is common, for example, for an employer to allow a military reservist to perform his obligatory annual two weeks training and to pay him the difference between his military pay and his salary. Some employers allow employees several years of military leave and will guarantee their reemployment with the pay, status, and seniority they would have had if they had not entered the military services. Another argument frequently heard to explain why sick leave is inapplicable is that pregnancy is voluntary, whereas other conditions eligible for sick leave are not. But pregnancy is often not voluntary. No foolproof method of contraception has been developed so far, and many of the most effective methods of 12 contraception present serious medical hazards to some women. Moreover, even though abortion is now legal, it is still unavailable to some women, in some cases because of cost, and in some cases because abortion is religiously or morally unacceptable. Nor is it true that other illness or disabilities for which sich leave is often used are necessarily involuntarily. Drunk- driving, overeating, and smoking are voluntary, yet all these activities put many people into hospitals. Sick leave is readily used for purely elective cosmetic surgery. When an employee breaks a leg skiing on vacation, no one asks if it was their own fault. A showing of hospitalization or medical treatment and of a temporary inability to work are all that is needed, as it should also be with childbirth. Just as women are not given the benefits they have earned when they are forced into over- long, unpaid maternity leaves, so also, they are discriminately excluded from another benefit which employers routinely provide for their workers—medical insurance. Health policies are labyrinthine in their explanation of coverages and exclusions. But most working women, looking carefully at the policies which they or their employers have taken out, will discover the following: 1. Basic coverage for doctor's fees and hospital costs is probably limited for childbirth to a specific dollar amount; maternity expenses are often the only category singled out for such limitation; 2. Major medical coverage probably excludes any expenses attributable to a normal pregnancy; 3. Maternity coverage is probably available only under a family plan; 4. The wives of male employees probably get broader maternity coverage than the female employees do; 5. Benefits are probably payable only for pregnancies that begin after the effective date of coverage, and sometimes several months after the date. America, unlike many European countries, has yet to devise a system for delivering even minimally adequate health care at a price that the average working person can meet. But even the system that we have affords nothing to relieve the pregnant woman and her family from the financial burden of childbirth. We make at least an attempt for everyone else, but pregnant women are left to go it alone. That pregnancy and its attendant complications are, financially as well as physically, burdens and risks to be borne solely ■ by women is an assumption that appears too often to underlie the thinking of those who design insurance policies. It is especially ironic that pregnancy is penalized as it is when you consider that even the strictest proponent of zero population growth recognizes that some babies will be born. A just society would share the burden of educating the young and —however meagerly—caring for the old. Instead, we assess the cost only to women, as if men had no part in the process of human reproduction. Not only are pregnant women left out of employers' health insurance plans, but they are also excluded from the long term disability insurance which many employers maintain for persons who are temporarily unable to work because of a physicial disability. In many of the 45 states that do not have compulsory insurance systems, women workers cannot buy disability insurance at all. Where they can, the distinctions between male and female coverage and premiums are tremendous; pregnancy, of course, is almost always disallowed. What would it cost to provide maternity payments? The Citizens' Advisory Counsel on the Status of Women sought the answer from the insurance industry itself, and came up with the representative estimate for a work group of whom 31-40% women. These estimates show that a good hospital, surgical, and major medical package for such a group (before discounting for larger employers, who pay less and without regional and industrial adjustments) would cost $42.00 per month for premiums for each family without pregnancy benefits, a little less than a dollar more per employee to include pregnancy benefits for female employees and another $4.00 more per employee to include pregnancy benefits for the wives of male employees. Insurance practices are at least partly governed by the demands of employers. If employers require full coverage for their female workers, they will get it. At the same time, insurers must not be allowed to set the cost of coverage for women without reexamining the evidence upon which they make these decisions. For example, the U.S. Public Health Service survey for 1975 shows that men lost an average 5.1 workdays for acute disabilities; women lost 5.2 days, including time off for childbirth and complications of pregnancy. Does this figure or any other figure justify the fact that the majority of large insurance companies charge women , almost three times the premium that men pay for disability insurance? It probably comes as no su- prise to most people who have considered the issue seriously that discrimination against pregnant women is unjust or even that it is against the law; what is (or should be) more suprising to the majority of law-abiding citizens is that every day, in every industry in this country, in all the divers ways described above, the law continues to be ignored by companies and employers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Sex Discrimination Guidelines declare that "any written or unwritten employment policy or practice which excludes from employment applicants or employees because of pregnancy is a prima facie violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964". The Guidelines require that disabilities caused by pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, and abortion be treated like all other disabilities. The requirement applies to an employ er's health and temporary disability insurance plans, sick leave rules, and policies and practices covering such matters as duration and extension of leave, accrual of seniority and pension rights during leave, and reinstatement rights. Despite the clarity of the EEOC prohibitions, however, company officials continue to distinguish between pregnant women and other temporarily disabled employees. Almost without exception, every major employer in the Houston area, including such public concerns as the State of Texas, Harris County, the City of Houston, Rice University, the University of Houston, Methodist Hospital, and the Texas Department of Public Works, and private companies such as Gulf Oil Chemicals, Sperry-Univac, Continental Can Company, Cameron Iron Works and hundreds of others continue to discriminate against pregnant women. In August of 1975, the National Organization for Women filed complaints with the Equal Opportunity Commission against ten of the most discriminatory companies in the Houston area. Charges such as these and the lawsuits that have followed have shaken some employers out of their complacency. YOURINVITATION Personalized Beauty Service 4815 Montrose By Appointment 529-4696