"The purpose is to reinforce what should already be happening, that businesses that are able to make reasonable accommodations are doing so, and that women are not forced to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy."
- Mike Held, owner of The Old Trail Printing Company
After months of organizing, the Main Street Alliance of Ohio members had their voices heard at the long awaited proponent testimony hearing on the Reasonable Accommodation Act. Although the day was fraught with delays, a special thank you goes out to LeAnne Johnson Absolom of Peace Love Bling and Mike Held of Old Trail Printing Company for waiting nearly four hours to provide testimony.
Both Absolom and Held delivered impactful, emotional, and very different statements. Absolom spoke about the intersectionality of women’s health and social justice that job loss can have on a woman who is pregnant. “The astronomical health care costs combined with the immoral disregard for the health and safety of two human lives, both mother and child, is unconscionable, and we cannot continue to allow employers to essentially give an ultimatum to their female employees,” said Absolom. “The choices currently seem to be (1) ignore a Doctor’s order to take precautions in order work as long as possible at the risk of personal and fetal health or (2) to observe doctor’s orders at the risk of mothers losing their jobs or compromising their long-term income because their employer is allowed to use their pregnancy as a reason to discharge them or limit their opportunities for advancement due to ‘performance issues’.”
Mike Held shared a very personal story about his daughter, Rebecca’s experience: “The other reason I am committed to seeing this legislation pass is a very personal one. My daughter Rebecca has had nine miscarriages. When she was able to carry, she had a baby that was premature. Her employer allowed her to leave daily to visit the hospital to continue to bond with the baby. Rebecca’s second child required she be on complete bed rest for the last two months of her pregnancy. Again she was granted the time off with no threat to her employment. Very sadly Rebecca lost her child at three months due to SIDS. Again she was allowed to take time off. Accommodation may be physical as well as emotional. Rebecca had her third child, and he is thriving now age 4. Rebecca has started a foundation in her second child’s name for homeless children. When an employer treats you well, you will be loyal forever. Rebecca is still at the same employer, has been promoted many times and never plans to leave her job.”
ABC News covered the hearing, and later requested an interview with Held to talk further about reasonable pregnancy accommodations. The MSA-OH Team convened at Old Trail Printing where Held was interviewed along with some of his employees. They finished with a video tour of his of his facility.