U.S. House Votes to Overturn D.C. Law Prohibiting Employer Discrimination Based on Reproductive Health Care Decisions

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Disapproval resolution of D.C. Council bill undermines District’s home rule, lets bosses discriminate against employees and dependents for reproductive health needs
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(PRESS RELEASE) Late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 228 to 192 to block a D.C. City Council bill that would protect employees in the District from discrimination based on their personal reproductive health care decisions.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDAA), passed by the City Council in December 2014 and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in January 2015, would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for decisions they or their dependents make about whether, when, and how to build a family, such as using fertility treatments, birth control, or accessing abortion services. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) introduced the disapproval resolution on April 13.

Employment discrimination on the basis of personal, private reproductive health-care decision-making is a national problem, from employees experiencing loss of wages to being blocked from promotion opportunities to being fired from their jobs altogether. The D.C. Office on Human Rights supports the RHNDAA to protect employees in the District of Columbia from experiencing similar discrimination.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Everyone has the right to make decisions about their reproductive health and lives without fear of losing their job or facing discrimination.

“This is a common-sense bill passed unanimously by the D.C. City Council to ensure that bosses cannot intrude upon decisions made in their employees’ exam rooms, just as politicians in Congress should not be intruding upon the District’s efforts to enact it.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights was one of more than 50 organizations in a broad coalition to mobilize against the RHNDAA disapproval resolution alongside a similarly discriminatory resolution to block the D.C. Human Rights Amendment Act—which would prohibit religiously-affiliated schools from discriminating against LGBT students and groups. The House has not yet held a committee mark-up for the disapproval resolution concerning the D.C. Human Rights Amendment Act, which was introduced by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) on April 14.

The District of Columbia Home Rule Act grants Congress the authority to review legislation passed by the D.C. Council before it becomes law. The Senate has until May 1 to take up the House measure and pass a joint disapproval resolution, which would be subject to Presidential approval.