"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.
Ohio senators, faith leaders, small business owners, and doctors gathered at Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square to urge lawmakers to support legislation that ends workplace discrimination against pregnant women.
If passed, the bill would lay out a set of commonsense rules for business owners that ensure accommodations are being made for pregnant and breastfeeding employees. Too many women are forced to make the impossible decision of losing their income or continuing to work when the nature of their work may be harmful to them or their child.
Members of the Main Street Alliance met last month with State Senator Charleta Tavares (D)- District 15 at a roundtable discussion at a Columbus jewelry store. There, the group discussed the economic impact imposed on a family forced to lose income during a pregnancy and the ripple effect that has on their businesses.
As the group assured the Senator at that meeting, the member businesses of the Main Street Alliance of Ohio welcome a new set of rules and will gladly make simple accommodations to keep women working when they need it most, and allow them to participate in their local economy.
"The proposed requirements for employers are VERY minimal. I have many women working for me who become pregnant and subsequently deliver. They have proven to be hard working and responsible about maternity leave. Providing a place to breastfeed or "pump" is not a problem for us. We encourage time and bonding with their child. Being a woman-owned company I know firsthand how difficult it was for me," says Molly Dullea, owner of The General Denver Hotel.
" As a business owner and a father and grandfather. The goal of Senate Bill 301 is not to create a burden for businesses. The purpose is to reinforce what should already be happening, that businesses that can make reasonable accommodations are doing so, and that women are not forced to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy,” says Mike Held, owner of The Old Trail Printing Company.
"The long-term repercussions of discriminating against pregnant women have more and more impact on the State budget than the temporary, reasonable accommodations we are asking employers to provide during pregnancy,” says LeAnne Absolom, owner of Peace Love Bling.