AUGUSTA – Maine could soon make it clear that employers cannot fire someone because of the reproductive choices they or their family members make.
Rep. Joyce “Jay” McCreight, D-Harpswell, told the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee Monday that her bill, LD 1003, would provide additional protections for employees during an age in which people’s private information is increasingly finding its way into the public domain.
“With social media and technology expanding at lightning speed, employers have more access to employees’ private information than ever before,” said McCreight. “This bill would create a safeguard for employees and their families so that they won’t have to worry about retaliation or losing their job if information about reproductive health decisions becomes known.”
McCreight’s bill makes it a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act to use personal information about reproductive health choices against an employee or someone applying for a job. Such choices could include the decision to use contraception, adopt a child, utilize in vitro fertilization, terminate a pregnancy or choose whether or not to become pregnant.
Several civil rights advocacy groups testified in favor of the bill. Danna Hayes of the Maine Women’s Lobby warned the committee that employers around the country continue to hold employees’ health care decisions against them.
“This bill is based on the principle that an employee should be judged solely based on their performance at their job,” said Hayes. “We would like to believe that our health care decisions would not be used against us at our place of employment, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. An employee in Indiana was fired because of her employer’s disapproval of her choice to pursue fertility treatment. An employer in Ohio was sued for firing an employee for becoming pregnant without being married.”
Other groups testifying in support of the bill included Maine Family Planning, Equality Maine, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.
The committee will hold a work session on McCreight’s legislation in the coming days.
McCreight is serving her first term in the Maine House and represents Harpswell, West Bath and part of Brunswick.