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Why the Supreme Court"s OSHA ruling could be more complicated for multi-state employers

The Supreme Court's ruling Thursday related only to the federal agency's vaccine mandate-or-testing rule, and it doesn't prohibit companies enacting mandates of their own. A pair of St. Louis lawyers explain why that makes for a challenging landscape for companies operating in multiple states......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 14th, 2022

Yes, your company can still require you to be vaccinated despite the Supreme Court"s ruling

The Supreme Court shot down President Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for large businesses, but that doesn't mean your company can't enforce its own. The federal government has provided COVID-19 relief in numerous forms, from free vaccines to economic programs.Reuters The Supreme Court shot down the White House's employer vaccine-or-test mandate on Thursday. Despite the ruling, employers are still legally able to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees. The federal mandate would have made it so that any company with over 100 employees must require vaccines. The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the Biden administration's vaccine-or-testing mandate for companies with more than 100 employees. Employers, however, can still make their own rules. The decision had two major results for American workers: It struck down a COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for private companies with more than 100 employees.It upheld a vaccine requirement for healthcare workers at federally-funded facilities.Though the court struck down the federal mandate, employers can still legally require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine or ban them from the office, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said last year.The agency has categorized COVID-19 as a direct threat, which allows employers to require temperature takes, masks, and social distancing. That said, businesses with employees in multiple states face a much more complicated situation."Employers are in this position where they have to look very carefully at each of the states in which they operate," Nathaniel Glasser, who leads a COVID-19 compliance practice group at the law firm Epstein Becker Green, said in an interview.In each state, businesses will have to determine: "Is there a vaccine mandate that we are required to comply with? What group of employers are covered by that mandate? And then, if there aren't any vaccine mandate requirements in that jurisdiction, but we want to implement our own, are there any restrictions in implementing that type of a mandate given the state/locality in which we're operating?" he said. A "face coverings required at all times when not seated" is displayed near a table at Westville Hudson on September 30, 2020 in New York City.Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty ImagesIn New York City, for example, all employees of all businesses must be vaccinated."Businesses may not allow any unvaccinated workers to come to their workplace," the law says. "A workplace is considered any location — including a vehicle — where you work in the presence of at least one other person."The EEOC and federal law say that employers can require employees to get vaccinated, but some states are attempting to find ways around these laws.In Montana and Tennessee, for example, businesses aren't legally allowed to mandate vaccinations due to anti-discrimination laws written and passed during the COVID-19 pandemic.Arkansas, Florida, and Texas have also passed laws specifically prohibiting businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccinations. More than 100 employees are suing one Texas hospital after saying that vaccines would be required for continued employment.With federal and state laws in direct conflict, it's unclear how things will ultimately shake out. This legal gray area is likely why few companies have outright required vaccines for employees. While some have attempted to encourage vaccinations with perks like bonus payments, it remains unclear whether those with mandates will actually enforce them without the federal backstop. Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 14th, 2022

"They"re Totally Confused": Biden"s Vaccine Mandate Chaos Leaves Employers With "Whiplash"

"They're Totally Confused": Biden's Vaccine Mandate Chaos Leaves Employers With "Whiplash" The Biden Administration's attempt to force millions of American workers to either get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs has backfired spectacularly. On Monday, the NYT published what to many probably sounded like scathing criticism coming from the notoriously pro-Dem paper: President Biden's attempt to use OSHA to try and force some 84MM workers to get vaccinated has left said employers with "whiplash". "They're totally confused", a quote in the headline screamed. Just a few weeks ago, the Administration was charging ahead, but its momentum has been decidedly crippled, especially now that the "very definition of fully vaccinated" has been thrown into question. The marching orders from the Biden administration in November had seemed clear — large employers were to get their workers fully vaccinated by early next year, or make sure the workers were tested weekly. But a little over a month later, the Labor Department’s vaccine rule has been swept into confusion and uncertainty by legal battles, shifting deadlines and rising Covid case counts that throw the very definition of fully vaccinated into question. The spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has seemingly bolstered the government’s argument, at the heart of its legal battle over the rule, that the virus remains a grave threat to workers. But the recent surge in cases has raised the issue of whether the government will take its requirements further — even as the original rule remains contentious — and ask employers to mandate booster shots, too. The country’s testing capacity has also been strained, adding to concerns that companies will be unable to meet the rule’s testing requirements. Even the lawyers don't know what to do. "My clients are totally confused as, quite frankly, am I," Erin McLaughlin, a labor and employment lawyer at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, said on Saturday. "My sense is that there are a lot of employers scrambling to try and put their mandate programs in place." With the issue still being viciously contested in the courts, the legal reality of the situation is that the order is still pending, so in effect, the Biden Administration has been stymied. With so much likely riding on a decision from the nation's highest court, how much longer until this becomes another cudgel used by the progressive left to push their court packing agenda, which is not dead, since President Biden and VP Kamala Harris mostly refuse to talk about it publicly. No company has been spared the whirlwind of changes in the last week, set off by the spike in Covid cases that have, in some instances, cut into their work forces. Then on Friday, an appeals court lifted the legal block on the vaccine rule, though appeals to the ruling were immediately filed, leaving the rule’s legal status up in the air. On Saturday, hours after the appeals court ruling, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urged employers to start working to get in compliance. But OSHA also gave employers some leeway, pushing back full enforcement of the rule until February, recognizing that for all its best intentions the rollout of the rule has been muddled. For companies struggling to meet OSHA’s standards because of testing shortages, the Labor Department said Sunday that it would “consider refraining from enforcement” if the employer has shown a good-faith effort to comply. The fact that many states have cities (most notably NYC) have rolled out their own rules for enforcement adds another layer of complexity to the whole mess. Adding a layer of confusion, many states and cities have created their own vaccine rules — some more stringent than the federal government’s, as in New York City, where an option to test out of vaccine requirements isn’t allowed, while some, like Florida, have sought to undermine OSHA’s rule. There’s also the question of whether companies will eventually be required to mandate boosters, which would require accommodating the six-month delay between the second and third shots. And as far as Wall Street is concerned, their current state of vaccine enforcement is "we're not going to talk about it." JPMorgan Chase, whose decision to require vaccines is complicated by its sprawling retail operations across the United States, declined to comment on how the court’s most recent decision, along with the recent spike in cases, affects any plans to mandate vaccines. But the bank on Friday told its American employees who do not work in bank branches that “each group should assess who needs to come into the office, work priorities and who should revert to working from home on a more regular basis over the next few weeks.” At this point, opponents of the rule, which includes the National Retail Federation, a trade group, haven't changed their positions despite the "rise" of omicron (which, keep in mind, has only been confirmed in a tiny fraction of overall new cases). Even the spread of Omicron hasn’t changed the position of some of the vaccine rule’s most ardent opponents. The National Retail Federation, one of the trade groups challenging the administration’s vaccine rule, is among those that have filed a petition with the Supreme Court. The group is in favor of vaccinations but has pushed for companies to get more time to carry out mandates. Still, even as it fights the administration’s rule, the federation is also holding twice weekly calls with members to compare notes on how to carry it out. "There’s no question that the increased number of variants like Omicron certainly don’t make it less dangerous," said Stephanie Martz, the group’s chief administrative officer and general counsel. "The legitimate, remaining question is, is this inherent to the workplace?" Then of course there's the booster question. And employers face yet another uncertainty: Should they mandate boosters? And will they be required to? When will all of this insanity and confusion end? Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 20:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 20th, 2021

Legal experts argue your boss can"t fire you for getting an abortion, but it"s more complicated than that

While laws exist in the workplace that protect pregnant employees and their health information, the new decision may create challenges for them. Carol Yepes/Getty Images Before and after Roe v. Wade was overturned, some companies have said they would support employees seeking an abortion. Offering an abortion travel benefit isn't as simple as it sounds, especially when a company has an obligation to protect an employee's privacy. Insider spoke to experts about what the decision means for pregnant employees and their rights. The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is leaving questions for employers and their employees on what to do if an employee is seeking an abortion.Some major companies, like Amazon and JPMorgan Chase, have said they would pay for employees to travel to seek a safe and legal abortion. But even with the travel benefit, seeking an abortion isn't easy, especially in the 13 states where Legislatures passed trigger laws that banned abortion as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned. Six states have already banned abortion, and 12 states face either an imminent ban or severe restrictions.While some companies have come forward to support employees seeking an abortion, it's not as simple as that. Laws in the workplace protecting pregnant people from discrimination and securing employment could face challenges from states banning abortions.Insider talked to workplace experts about what the decision means for pregnant employees in the workplace, and what it means for employers.Can an employer fire an employee if they find out the employee had an abortion?The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), which was amended from Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protects against discrimination and harassment in employment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy, but it does not specifically mention abortions. Guidance from the US Department of Labor indicates that abortions are protected from discrimination.The PDA does mention that employers don't have to cover the costs of an abortion except in certain circumstances (such as the mother's health being in danger, or complications arising from an abortion). Therefore, coverage against discrimination is uncertain under the PDA.But Michi McClure, chief compliance and privacy officer at women's health and personal care website Favor, argued that with the PDA, Congress covered the decision to receive an abortion, and that employers can't fire or refuse to hire a person for exercising their right to an abortion."If someone is fired for having an abortion, they could potentially win a lawsuit against the employer for wrongful termination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act," McClure said.McKensie Mack, founder of research and change management firm MMG, said we don't yet know how laws around abortion will be carried out from state to state. "At this point, most trigger laws restrict providers from providing abortions, and threaten fines and jail time for medical providers who offer abortions to patients in states where abortion is or is soon to be banned," Mack said.Mack argued that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects all employees having an abortion, not having an abortion, or contemplating having an abortion. The EEOC is the agency that enforces federal laws making discrimination based on several factors, including pregnancy, illegal."This means it would be against the law for a director to pressure a direct report not to have an abortion, in order to keep a position, receive a promotion, or abide by the director's anti-abortion stance," Mack said. But, they noted that just because a law has not been passed and legislation has not be introduced to make abortion illegal, doesn't mean employees won't be discriminated against if they have an abortion.Can an employer fire an employee for having an abortion if it conflicts with the employer's religious or personal beliefs?Title VII protects employees from religious discrimination and harassment, too. "Employers would be hard-pressed to prove in a court of law that an individual of their own consent and volition having an abortion is somehow an expression of harassment or religious discrimination against another individual whose body and reproductive autonomy are not involved in that process, but that doesn't mean it can't happen," Mack said.How can an employee protect their privacy if they need to use their company's travel benefit, but don't want to disclose that they are seeking an abortion?When an employer offers to pay for abortion care travel, McClure said the company needs to protect the employee's privacy, while at the same time accurately documenting the expense to the business. "The business is obligated to ensure the funds are being spent as intended, which would not be possible without the employee disclosing the purpose of requesting said funds," McClure said.If an employee can pay for their own travel expenses, McClure said they can keep the information about their abortion private by taking paid time off.Sarah Raii, an attorney at McDermott Will & Emery who focuses on employee benefits, said in a statement that employers should be careful when considering how to offer abortion benefits to avoid conflict with federal laws around health care benefits."Incorporating abortion benefits into an employer's existing health plan might help mitigate worker privacy concerns," Raii said, "since health plans are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)."If an employer or other people at the company find out an employee has had an abortion from means other than the employee disclosing the abortion themselves, Raii told Insider it would raise privacy and HIPAA red flags. Employers are not permitted to look at confidential and protected health information.Overall, how is the workplace going to change for people who receive abortions or want to seek an abortion?The experience for employees seeking an abortion will differ from state to state as each Legislature decides what to do post-Roe.Raii said employers who are concerned about employees' access to abortion services, should evaluate their options as soon as possible with legal counsel. "Depending on the intensity of the legislation, those who are already most vulnerable in our society, including women, queer and trans people, black and brown people, disabled folks, and folks living at or below the poverty line will be most at risk of facing termination or other forms of discrimination based on their commitment to their own bodily autonomy and reproductive freedoms," Mack said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 29th, 2022

Jack White blamed "unchecked egomaniac" Donald Trump for the overturn of Roe v. Wade: "Trump, you took the country backwards 50 years"

Addressing Trump directly, White in an Instagram post said Trump's dad has a "record of all the abortions you secretly paid for behind closed doors." Left: Jack White; Right: Donald TrumpLeft: AP Photo/Evan Agostini; Right: Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP Jack White on Friday blamed former President Donald Trump directly for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalized abortion nationwide. "Well trump, you took the country backwards 50 years," White said in a lengthy Instagram post. Musician Jack White blasted former President Donald Trump on Friday, blaming him directly for the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. In a lengthy Instagram post, White called Trump an "unchecked egomaniac" who took the US down "the worst, regressive path to the point of an insurrection in our capital building threatening the lives of the vice president and congress members, and in turn made our govt. an embarrassment to the entire world."He also lashed out at Trump for appointing three conservative justices to the Supreme Court during his single-term presidency."The two party system by proxy puts this clown in a position to pick THREE conservative supreme court justices, THREE," White wrote. "And now these three judges, completely disinterested and unaffected by what the actual majority wants and needs, have just taken the country back to the 1970's to start all over again fighting for women's rights."White's remarks come after the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday. The ruling was feared since May when Politico published a leaked draft opinion in which Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito called the decision "egregiously wrong from the start."Abortion, however, remained legal in the United States until the court handed down the final verdict. But the draft itself was enough to put reproductive rights activists and doctors who perform abortions on edge.By overturning Roe, the Supreme Court has put the question of the legality of abortion in the hands of individual state legislatures and has essentially made it illegal in 23 states to obtain an abortion. There are expected to be added restrictions in several others."Well trump, you took the country backwards 50 years," White said. "I hope your dad is smiling and waving down on you from heaven, while his other hand holds a record of all the abortions you secretly paid for behind closed doors."Others have also credited Trump directly for Roe v. Wade's demise, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. "Thank you President Trump," Greene said. "God bless you. This got overturned today because of your great work as president, and we want him back."White with his remarks joins a slew of other prominent individuals who've blasted the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 25th, 2022

The Supreme Court just overturned Roe v. Wade, but the vast majority of Americans don"t even know who the court"s justices are

Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans were able to name certain Supreme Court justices, according to a CSPAN poll from earlier this year. Seated from left: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a ruling that guts federal abortion rights protections. But despite ensuing outcry, polling suggests that few Americans know who the deciding justices are. Clarence Thomas was the most recognized judge, but was still named by only 24% of respondents.  The Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the nearly 50-year-old landmark ruling that protected abortion rights nationwide, prompting widespread protests as the country grapples with the consequential ruling.But recent polling suggests that the vast majority of American voters don't even know who these influential justices are, highlighting an apparent disconnect between the nation's top court and the very people affected by its rulings.Ahead of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Senate confirmation earlier this year, C-SPAN and Pierrepont Consulting & Analytics surveyed more than 1,000 likely voters to gauge the public's interest in and awareness of the Supreme Court's work and relevance. While 84% of voters said the Supreme Court's decisions affect their everyday life, far fewer respondents could provide basic details about the court's history or inner workings.The survey did, however, seem to confirm Roe v. Wade's cultural standing — it is the only landmark Supreme Court case that is well-known to the public, according to the poll. When asked to name any cases decided by the court, 40% of people said Roe v. Wade. The next most-known decision, Brown v. Board of Education, was named by just 6% of respondents, and 46% of people couldn't name a single case.An even greater number of people seemingly could not name one of the nine justices who currently sit on the nation's top court. Forty-eight percent of people were non-responsive to a question asking about the current Supreme Court makeup, while three percent of people openly acknowledged that they could not give an answer. Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving justice currently on the court, was the most recognized face, followed closely by Chief Justice John Roberts. But even then, only 24% and 22% of respondents respectively named either of the two men. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett followed next, with 17%, 15%, and 13% of respondents naming them respectively, while Stephen Breyer cinched 11%.But among the three remaining justices, fewer than 1 in 10 people could name Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, or Samuel Alito. Nonetheless, it was Alito on Friday who delivered the majority opinion in Roe, along with his conservative colleagues, Gorsuch, Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett.Roberts sided with the 6-3 majority to uphold the Mississippi law at the heart of the case, which contradicts the standard set by Roe. But the chief justice disputed the conservative majority's full overhaul of Roe, instead, opting for a more middle-ground approach that would have allowed Mississippi to keep its statute, effectively weakening abortion rights without gutting them in total. The decision kicks the issue of abortion rights back to the individual states, handing the power to a new subset of deciding justices: each state's supreme justices, who in all likelihood, are even less well-known by the American public than their national counterparts.And come November, 86 state supreme court seats will be on the ballot.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 24th, 2022

Netflix joins Tesla, Amazon, Apple, and others in covering travel costs for employees seeking abortions in different states. Here"s how companies are pushing back against increasing restrictions.

With the Supreme Court possibly poised to overturn decades of precedent on abortion, some employers are taking steps to ensure workers receive care. Protesters, demonstrators and activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the abortion-rights ruling under Roe v Wade. Companies like Netflix, Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are expanding support for workers seeking abortion. Here is a list of major companies taking steps in response to any rollback of reproductive rights. In a surprise leak, a Supreme Court majority decision appears poised to overturn decades of settled law in reversing the constitutional right to abortion under Roe v Wade.On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft document was real, but said the court has not yet reached a final ruling.Though the leak itself was unexpected, it follows a concerted effort that has long been underway in many Republican-controlled states to severely limit access to abortion.Several large companies with employees located in places like Texas and Oklahoma have announced their own initiatives to preserve access to medical treatments that are in the process of being criminalized by state lawmakers. 26 states are "certain or likely" to ban abortion if Roe is struck down, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. Employers like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are specifically including abortion in their expansion of existing benefits programs, which reimburse employees for travel costs related to seeking medical care that is not available near the employee's home.Others like Uber and Lyft have pledged support for transportation for people seeking abortions, as well as legally defending drivers against abortion related lawsuits.Below is a list of major companies and how they are responding to rollbacks of reproductive rights.NetflixThe streaming company told Insider it will reimburse expenses for US employees and their dependents who need to travel for cancer treatment, transplants, gender-affirming care, or abortions through its health plans. It is a $10,000 lifetime allowance per employee and/or their dependents per service.StarbucksThe coffee company, which employs 240,000 workers across the US, announced an expansion of its employee benefits package that will soon include reimbursement for travel to access abortion or gender-affirming care that is not available locally. The benefit also applies to employees' dependents enrolled in the company's programs."Like many of you, I'm deeply concerned by the draft Supreme Court opinion related to the constitutional right to abortion that was first established by Roe v. Wade," Starbucks executive vice president Sara Kelly said in a letter to staff. "Regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality healthcare."TeslaThe electric carmaker, which officially relocated its headquarters to Texas in December, announced in a report on May 6 that it has offered "travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state" since 2021 under its Safety Net and health insurance program.AppleApple CEO Tim Cook addressed concerns about Texas' fetal heartbeat bill during a town hall meeting in September. The company soon followed up with a memo that called the bill "uniquely restrictive," and said the employee health plan covers participants who "travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state."CitigroupCiti, which has roughly 8,500 employees in Texas, notified investors in a March filing that "In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources."AmazonOn May 2, just hours before news of the Supreme Court draft decision broke, Amazon told employees it would cover up to $4,000 per year in travel costs related to non-life threatening medical treatments, including elective abortion. The policy covers both corporate and warehouse workers and their dependents who are enrolled in the company's Premera or Aetna health plans.SalesforceShortly after the Texas bill passed in September, Salesforce told employees via its internal messaging system: "If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family."Yelp"Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies," Yelp said in a statement on Tuesday. "Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy."In explaining Yelp's decision cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in a different state from the one where they live, chief diversity officer Miriam Warren previously told Insider, "This is not a new issue for Yelp; this is a new benefit.""Our company and our CEO have long been invested in promoting gender equity," she continued, "the possibility of which is diminished when women don't have control over their own reproductive health."LyftIn response to the "heartbeat" abortion bans recently passed in Oklahoma and Texas, Lyft announced it would cover the legal fees of drivers sued in either state for transporting passengers to abortion providers. The ride-share company said it is also working with healthcare partners to cover transportation costs to airports and clinics for women in Oklahoma and Texas seeking out-of-state abortion care. Lyft's US medical benefits include coverage for elective abortions. On April 29, the company said it will cover the transportation costs for employees seeking abortions outside of Texas and Oklahoma. UberUber announced it would also cover drivers' legal fees soon after Lyft. "Drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter, referring to a provision that allows private citizens to sue individuals "aiding and abetting" an illegal abortion and creates a $10,000 "reward" for successful lawsuits.MatchMatch Group CEO Shar Dubey created a fund for Texas-based employees seeking healthcare services outside of the state following the "heartbeat" abortion ban. "I'm not speaking about this as the CEO of a company," Dubey said. "I'm speaking about this personally, as a mother and a woman who has fervently cared about women's rights, including the very fundamental right of choice over her body."BumbleBumble created a relief fund for organizations supporting Texans' reproductive rights. The $6.6 billion company founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 tweeted that it was "women-founded and women-led," and would "keep fighting against regressive laws like SB8." Bumble and Match were some of the first Texas-based tech companies to speak out against the ban. "We are dismayed by the rumors of the Supreme Court decision that was leaked last night," a Bumble spokesperson said Tuesday. "At Bumble, we believe strongly in women's right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all ... The health and safety of our team is our utmost priority and that includes covering access to abortion care. We will continue to partner with organizations that work to provide reproductive access to all." DellIn response to TX SB8, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell sent an email to all Texas employees on Wednesday, September 8 that said: "Our leadership team is carefully reviewing the implications of recent legislation on our business and on you, our team members."  While the internal message did not mention SB8 by name, Dell wrote that "there's much we still don't know about how all of these laws will ultimately play out" and the company's "goal is for you to have more (health) coverage, not less."A Dell spokesperson declined to comment on the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked Monday, adding that the company's focus "is on our team members and supporting them with the benefits and support they need."Levi'sLevi's employees, including part-time retail workers, can seek reimbursement for travel expenses related to seeking an abortion in another state."Protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, is a critical business issue. Efforts to further restrict or criminalize that access would have far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the US economy and our nation's pursuit of gender and racial equity.It would jeopardize workplace gains women have made over the past 50 years, disproportionately impact women of color and force companies to implement different health policies for different locations. Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights," Levi Strauss & Co said Tuesday in a statement shared with Insider. LushLush Handmade Cosmetics said in January that it's reviewing healthcare coverage to ensure all US staff can access abortion services. "We are fraught with concern for the state of women's rights in this country. Not only because Lush employs over 80% of women but because we know access to safe reproductive care, including abortion is an essential part of a healthy workforce and community. For seven months we've been campaigning for the right to access to abortion for all in TX, FL, OH, MO, AK and OK.The leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion confirms our worst fears and we are currently exploring ways to support impacted staff with inclusive and equitable care. But this 'fix' can only be temporary from the business community, we need legislation like the Women's Health Protection Act, passed to reflect the will of the majority of the country and ensure that women's rights are affirmed as what they are — human rights," Brandi Halls, Chief Ethics Officer for Lush Cosmetics North America, said in a statement shared with Insider on Tuesday. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 22nd, 2022

LIVE RESULTS: 3 candidates advance to the top 4 in a House special election in Alaska

Four dozen candidates are competing to succeed the late Republican Rep. Don Young in the first election under Alaska's new top-four primary system. Sarah Palin, a Republican seeking the sole US House seat in Alaska, addressing supporters on June 2 in Anchorage, Alaska.Mark Thiessen/APAlaska is holding a 48-candidate special primary to fill the state's at-large US House seat left vacant after Rep. Don Young died. Young, a Republican, held the seat for 48 years until his death in March.Three candidates — the Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III and a nonpartisan candidate, Al Gross — will advance forward to the general election, Insider and Decision Desk HQ project.The race & the candidates:Alaska's 48-candidate special election is the first one held under Alaska's new top-four primary system, which voters approved in 2020. Under the new system, candidates from all parties run on the same primary ballot. And the top four — regardless of party — will advance to a special general election on August 16 that will be held with ranked-choice voting.The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Young's term until January 2023. Young, a fierce advocate for Alaska, spent his nearly five decades representing the state in Congress directing federal money back home and becoming a master of the congressional earmarks process, allowing him to allocate millions for infrastructure and other key projects in Alaska. The top Republican candidates are Palin, the former governor and 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee; Begich, who is backed by the state Republican Party; state Sen. Josh Revak, who has the endorsement of Young's widow; and Tara Sweeney, a former Interior Department assistant secretary. Young's towering legacy in the state will be on the ballot, especially on the Republican side given that Begich, Sweeney, and Revak were all mentored by him during his 50-year career in Alaska politics, according to the Anchorage Daily News.Begich, a wealthy software developer and son of former Sen. Mark Begich, announced he would challenge Young before Young's death, and he's spent $650,000 of his own money on his campaign so far. Sweeney has been the largest beneficiary of outside spending in the race, with the T.A.R.A for Alaska Super PAC, heavily funded by Alaska Native business interests in the state, having spent more than $400,000 to support her candidacy. If elected, Sweeney would be the first Alaska Native person to serve in Congress. Al Gross, a physician and nonpartisan candidate who unsuccessfully ran for Senate against GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2020, is the leader in fundraising and outside spending among non-Republican candidates.The Democrats running for the seat include state lawmaker Mary Peltola, who would also be the first Alaska Native person elected to Congress, the Anchorage-based Assemblyman Chris Constant, and the Fairbanks-based Assemblyman Adam Wool.And a progressive North Pole councilman named Santa Claus, who is running as an undeclared candidate, could have a leg up in name recognition.The last day to vote in the special primary is June 11, and officials planned to certify the race by June 25. But an 11th-hour court ruling could throw a wrench in their plans, with a superior court judge ruling on June 10 — the night before ballots were due — that officials could not certify the election until visually impaired voters were given "a full and fair opportunity to cast their votes independently, secretly and privately."The state is appealing up to the state supreme court, according to the Associated Press, arguing that the ruling "creates enormous confusion and prejudice to the voters."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 13th, 2022

LIVE RESULTS: Three candidates advance to the top-four in an Alaska House special election

Four dozen candidates are competing to succeed the late Republican Rep. Don Young in the first election under Alaska's new top-four primary system. Sarah Palin, a Republican seeking the sole US House seat in Alaska, addresses supporters Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska.Mark Thiessen/APAlaska is holding a 48-candidate special primary to fill the state's at-large House seat left vacant after Republican Rep. Don Young died. Young held the seat for 48 years until his death in March.Three candidates, Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III and nonpartisan candidate Al Gross, will advance forward to the general election, Insider and Decision Desk HQ project. The race & the candidates:Alaska's 48-candidate special election is the first one held under Alaska's new top-four primary system, which voters approved in 2020. Under the new system, candidates from all parties run on the same primary ballots. And the top four — regardless of party — will advance to a special general election on August 16 that will be held with ranked-choice voting. The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Young's term until January 2023. Young, a fierce advocate for Alaska, spent his nearly five decades representing the state in Congress directing federal money back home and becoming a master of the congressional earmarks process, allowing him to allocate millions for infrastructure and other key projects in Alaska. The top Republican candidates are Palin, former governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Begich, who is backed by the state Republican Party, state Sen. Josh Revak, who has the endorsement of Young's widow, and former Interior Department assistant secretary Tara Sweeney. Young's towering legacy in the state will be on the ballot, especially on the Republican side given that Begich, Sweeney, and Revak were all mentored by him during his 50-year career in Alaska politics, according to the Anchorage Daily News.Begich, a wealthy software developer and son of former Sen. Mark Begich, announced he would challenge Young before Young's death, and has spent $650,000 of his own money on his campaign so far. Sweeney has been the largest beneficiary of outside spending in the race, with the T.A.R.A for Alaska Super PAC, heavily funded by Alaska Native business interests in the state, has spent more than $400,000 to support her candidacy. If elected, Sweeney would be the first Alaska Native person to serve in Congress. Al Gross, a physician and nonpartisan candidate who unsuccessfully ran for Senate against GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2020, is the leader in fundraising and outside spending among non-Republican candidates.The Democrats running for the seat include state lawmaker Mary Peltola, who would also be the first Alaska Native person elected to Congress, Anchorage-based Assemblyman Chris Constant, and Fairbanks-based Assemblyman Adam Wool.And a progressive North Pole councilman named Santa Claus, who is running as an undeclared candidate, could have a leg up in name recognition.The last day to vote in the special primary is June 11, and officials planned to certify the race by June 25. But an 11th-hour court ruling could throw a wrench in their plans, with a superior court judge ruling on June 10— the night before ballots were due — that officials could not certify the election until visually impaired voters were given "a full and fair opportunity to cast their votes independently, secretly and privately."The state is appealing up to the state supreme court, according to the Associated Press, arguing that the ruling "creates enormous confusion and prejudice to the voters."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJun 12th, 2022

House January 6 hearings likely to ratchet Donald Trump"s legal risk "up 1 more level," experts say

Legal experts say the House January 6 panel's hearings could unearth damaging new information about Trump and play an important public education role. House January 6 hearings are expected to put Donald Trump at the center of efforts to overturn the 2020 election.Chet Strange/Getty Images Legal experts say the House January 6 committee hearings could deepen Donald Trump's legal woes. Any new information could provide a roadmap for prosecutors and aid civil lawsuits against Trump. The hearings could also serve an important public education role as DOJ investigates January 6. After months of investigation, the House committee examining the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol is taking its findings to primetime Thursday — and planning to put former President Donald Trump at the center of what its staff described as a "coordinated, multi-step" attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. The House panel has repeatedly acknowledged that it lacks prosecutorial power, its remit focused instead on reckoning with the efforts to overturn the 2020 election and recommending steps to stave off similar threats in the future. But legal experts told Insider that the hearing — the first of six expected this month — could serve as an opening argument of sorts for the case against Trump and deepen the former president's legal exposure from January 6."January 6 is the culmination of a very wide-ranging assault on the election. What the hearings are going to do is take it up one more level. It's not just the question of newspaper and media stories, as important as they are. They're going to provide actual evidence — evidence prosecutors can use," said Norm Eisen, who served as counsel for House Democrats in Trump's first impeachment and co-authored a guide to the upcoming hearings titled "Trump on Trial.""I think it's going to go well beyond what we already know. And that's gonna start with new, never-before-seen evidence that we're going to receive starting in the first hearing," Eisen added. "All those signs are that the evidence is accumulating, and I think it's very likely that the end result of this evidence being put out there will be a state or federal prosecution of the former president."Trump faces legal jeopardy on multiple fronts in connection with the Capitol attack, with many experts saying the hearings could raise public alarm and reveal damning new evidence about Trump's state of mind — one of the most difficult elements to prove in a criminal case.The federal investigation into January 6 has given rise to more than 800 prosecutions against alleged members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol, and the Justice Department has increasingly closed in on the former president. The Justice Department's investigation has widened to examine the potential culpability of figures involved in Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election, including members of his orbit who promoted slates of fake electors to obstruct then-President-elect Joe Biden's victory.Meanwhile, a local prosecutor in Atlanta is investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, testified before a Fulton County special grand jury last week as part of that investigation, and he is reportedly in talks to also testify publicly before the House January 6 committee.Trump is separately facing civil lawsuits from House lawmakers and Capitol police officers who allege that he helped instigate the violence of January 6. A federal judge in February allowed the lawsuits to proceed, rejecting Trump's argument for dismissing the cases.Lawmakers on the House January 6 committee will air the inquiry's findings during a public hearing Thursday.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThe House hearings are expected to feature not only live testimony but also portions of recorded interviews with witnesses in the investigation, including White House officials and Trump's family members. The presentation could shed further light on Trump's state of mind as the Capitol attack unfolded and provide helpful information for those civil lawsuits, legal experts said.Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan Law professor and former US attorney in Detroit, said the civil lawsuits are relying on the same legal theory used in a case against the organizers of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, who were ordered to pay $26 million in compensatory and punitive damages."I think we can see similar outcomes in those civil cases, which could be, perhaps, an easier and better way to hold people accountable," McQuade said of the civil lawsuits tied to January 6. "It could be that instead of criminal convictions, civil liability is what ends up holding people accountable. And it could also be that we learn facts that help support those civil lawsuits."The House committee has left little doubt about its view of Trump's criminal liability. While the panel is reportedly divided over whether to formally refer Trump to the Justice Department for prosecution, the committee said in a court filing earlier this year that it has evidence suggesting the former president and his campaign "engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States."A federal judge in California later said Trump "likely" broke federal law with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.The Justice Department has taken an interest in the House committee's work, requesting transcripts of the panel's closed-door interviews. McQuade said that, with regard to Trump's criminal liability, the former president is "going to be in whatever trouble he's in based on the investigation of the Justice Department.""But I think we might get in on the story based on an airing of the committee's evidence, and one of the things I'll be looking for is: Is there a connection between the Trump campaign and the physical attack?" she said.Ahead of Thursday's hearing, a House January 6 committee aide said the panel had amassed a "mountain of new information." A compelling presentation of that information could add to the pressure on the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland to move more aggressively to hold Trump and his political allies accountable for January 6, legal experts said.Any consideration of charges against Trump will involve weighing a central law enforcement principle — that "no one is above the law" — against the ramifications of prosecuting a former president, who demands fealty from Republican leaders and maintains a fervent base.  Before taking office, Biden pledged to pull the Justice Department out of the politics and turmoil of the Trump era, but any prosecution of the former president would risk the appearance that his administration was going after a political rival and potential 2024 contender.Amid those competing pressures, the House January 6 committee's hearings could help lay a foundation for the American public to accept whatever decision the Justice Department makes, said Donald Ayer, who served as deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration.Ayer told Insider that he expects the hearings to illuminate Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election for "a substantial proportion of Americans who care about our democracy, but presently have only a passing familiarity with the mass of complicated evidence that has been reported up to now.""This public education function," Ayer said, "will be extremely important in countering the flood of lies that Trump supporters have offered, and in providing a strong base of public support for whatever action the Department of Justice decides to take — including the possibility of indicting the former president — in order to secure accountability for the unprecedented effort to destroy our system of government."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 9th, 2022

Foreclosure-Wave Sweeping US Crests In Chicago

Foreclosure-Wave Sweeping US Crests In Chicago By Dave Byrnes of Courthouse News Service A report released in April by real estate data aggregator ATTOM has bestowed Chicago with a dubious honor. Amid a national surge in residential foreclosure rates, Chicagoans are currently losing their homes in greater numbers than in any other metro area in the country. “A total of 50,759 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in Q1 2022, up 67% from the previous quarter and up 188% from a year ago,” the report stated, with Chicago alone seeing over 3,000 foreclosures in the first three months of the year. If you interpret the numbers as a per housing unit rate, Cleveland manages to pull ahead of Chicago with almost one in every 500 homes foreclosed since the start of 2022. But by the same metric, Illinois still leads the nation on a state level – close to one out of every 800 homes. California, as the country’s most populous state, wins out as the state with the highest raw numbers of foreclosed homes this year. More than 5,300 households in the Golden State had begun the foreclosure process as of April. As shocking as this spike in home loss is, experts said it was predictable – the inevitable result of the end of the pandemic eviction moratorium. Enacted by Congress in March 2020 under former President Donald Trump and struck down in August 2021 by a supreme court ruling under current President Joe Biden, it was a national exercise in decommodified housing that staved off homelessness for an estimated 1.5 million Americans. But now it’s over. “In great part, this is the fault of the lifting of the moratorium,” said Ken Johnson, the dean of graduate studies at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business. “It’s not 100% to blame, there’s always a natural rate of foreclosure, but it is a major factor.” “It’s the moratorium lifting,” agreed professor Marie Reilly of Penn State University, who specializes in bankruptcy law. “During the moratorium people weren’t eligible for mortgage mitigation… now we’re seeing the market respond to that.” While agreeing on the general cause of the foreclosure wave, the pair offered differing explanations as to the granular mechanisms driving it. Reilly suggested that it may be the result of the Federal Reserve interest rate, the rate at which the Federal Open Market Committee suggests commercial banks borrow and lend money to each other. When the rate is low, consumers can get lower rates on credit cards, loans and adjustable-rate mortgages. But at the moment it’s rising, from around 0.25% in March 2020 to around 0.75% – 1% as of this May. The increasing figure reflects the 40-year high in inflation the U.S. is currently experiencing, and makes it hard for property owners without much capital to hold on to their unprofitable buildings. As the U.S. working class struggles to make ends meet, their economic hardship trickles up to the rest of society – including their landlords. “The other thing that could be affecting [the foreclosure rate] is the Federal Reserve interest rate,” Reilly said. “It could be making it harder for landlords to hold on to non-rent-paying properties.” As small landlords shed these properties, Reilly explained, larger development firms will often come in to buy them up on the cheap – sometimes with the blessings of municipalities looking to avoid the crime that comes with abandoned or vacant buildings. While large firms buying up property staves off that immediate concern, the result is usually an increase in rent or home ownership costs in the area, further driving out residents who cannot afford the rising prices. It’s the economic foundations of gentrification. “Vacant properties are not good for anyone,” Reilly said. “And it’s not always easy to tell if its a resident who’s going to be dispossessed, or if it’s a remote investor who’s just abandoning the property.” Johnson offered another view. He suggested that there simply weren’t enough homes, particularly affordable homes, in many areas of the country. The cancellation of the moratorium only exacerbated the problem. “There is a huge inventory shortage,” Johnson said. “That’s the total number of [housing] units.” Figures from the Pew Research Center corroborate this. There were an average of 1.5 million monthly active home listings in the U.S. in October 2016, while in January 2022 there only about 409,000. During the same time period the median cost of a home in the U.S. rose from a little over $300,000 to over $400,000. Renters fare little better, with the national average cost of rent rising by 18% since 2017, more so in metro areas. The rent market research site Apartment List estimated that the average apartment in Chicago alone was 11% more expensive in April 2022 compared to April 2021. “There’s just not enough roofs to live under,” Johnson said. This assertion is sometimes challenged by analysts on the left, who point out that as of 2020 there were some 16 million vacant homes in the U.S., compared to a homeless population that hovers around 550,000. But Johnson called this a red herring. If someone on the East Coast has their home foreclosed, he said, it wouldn’t much matter to them that there is a surplus of housing in a town on the West Coast. Additionally, the number of homes affordable to people making less than 50% of area’s median income accounts for only about 35% of the nation’s housing stock, and state-subsidized public housing accounts for less than 1%. Some large metro areas such as Los Angeles and Chicago even have a history of destroying their public and affordable housing stock, such as when the Chicago Housing Authority infamously began tearing down the Cabrini-Green public housing project in 2000 under the direction of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. All this means that even if many homes are technically available, they likely won’t be held at a price that a recent foreclosee can afford. The cold comfort both experts offered is that the current foreclosure crisis is not as intense as that experienced by the nation during the 2008 Great Recession. Reilly called the 2008 crisis a “seize-up” of the market, one she said we’re “nowhere close” to. Johnson said that while the current crisis stems from an under-supply of housing, the 2008 crisis was caused by the speculative bubble bursting on an over-supply of single-family housing. “There may be places that are hit hard based on population changes, but… it’s a matter of under-supply vs. over-supply,” he said. Neither expert had concrete ideas on how to solve the current crisis. Reilly urged anyone facing foreclosure to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, if they could, while Johnson suggested this wasn’t a problem that can be fully solved by market manipulation. A 2020 collection of analyses by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs vehemently agreed. It arrived at the conclusion that the only solution to the foreclosure and housing crisis was housing decommodification. It suggested a strategy that instead prioritized state and community-owned homes that were not subject to profit speculation. “To have a roof over our heads is essential in human development, but this is threatened when housing is a way to make profits in communities whose market values increase and attract the attention of corporate investors,” one of the analyses in the collection argued. Back in Chicago, the city government on Friday announced a much more capitalist-friendly initiative to combat its nation-leading foreclosure spike. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, along with Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa – her frequent critic from the left – officially opened the Emmett Street Apartments in the city’s mixed-income Logan Square community. All of the 100 apartment units in the building will be made affordable to people making at or below 60% of the city’s area median income, while half will be reserved as public housing units. “I am excited that after years of community organizing and struggle, we are finally cutting the ribbon on a beautiful building that will house 100 working families in the heart of Logan Square,” Ramirez-Rosa said in a prepared statement.  However one thinks the housing crisis should be handled, there’s a catch to the whole situation. Despite the current foreclosure rate being the highest since the pandemic began, it is still lower than the average pre-pandemic foreclosure rate – only about half as many foreclosures were initiated in the first quarter of 2022 as were begun in the first quarter of 2020. ATTOM’s researchers predicted we would eventually see a return to “historically normal” foreclosure levels, perhaps as soon as the end of the year. “It’s likely that we’ll continue to see significant month-over-month and year-over-year growth through the second quarter of 2022, but still won’t reach historically normal levels of foreclosures until the end of the year at the earliest, unless the U.S. economy takes a significant turn for the worse,” the report states. In other news, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf told the Washington Post earlier this week there was “no question” that the U.S. economy is headed for a dive. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/26/2022 - 09:04.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 26th, 2022

Starbucks joins Tesla, Amazon, Apple, and Citi as the latest company to cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different states. Here"s how companies are pushing back against increasing restrictions.

With the Supreme Court possibly poised to overturn decades of precedent on abortion, some employers are taking steps to ensure workers receive care. Protesters, demonstrators and activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the abortion-rights ruling under Roe v Wade. Companies like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are expanding support for workers seeking abortion. Here is a list of major companies taking steps in response to any rollback of reproductive rights. In a surprise leak, a Supreme Court majority decision appears poised to overturn decades of settled law in reversing the constitutional right to abortion under Roe v Wade.On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft document was real, but said the court has not yet reached a final ruling.Though the leak itself was unexpected, it follows a concerted effort that has long been underway in many Republican-controlled states to severely limit access to abortion.Several large companies with employees located in places like Texas and Oklahoma have announced their own initiatives to preserve access to medical treatments that are in the process of being criminalized by state lawmakers. 26 states are "certain or likely" to ban abortion if Roe is struck down, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. Employers like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are specifically including abortion in their expansion of existing benefits programs, which reimburse employees for travel costs related to seeking medical care that is not available near the employee's home.Others like Uber and Lyft have pledged support for transportation for people seeking abortions, as well as legally defending drivers against abortion related lawsuits.Below is a list of major companies and how they are responding to rollbacks of reproductive rights.StarbucksThe coffee company, which employs 240,000 workers across the US, announced an expansion of its employee benefits package that will soon include reimbursement for travel to access abortion or gender-affirming care that is not available locally. The benefit also applies to employees' dependents enrolled in the company's programs."Like many of you, I'm deeply concerned by the draft Supreme Court opinion related to the constitutional right to abortion that was first established by Roe v. Wade," Starbucks executive vice president Sara Kelly said in a letter to staff. "Regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality healthcare."TeslaThe electric carmaker, which officially relocated its headquarters to Texas in December, announced in a report on May 6 that it has offered "travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state" since 2021 under its Safety Net and health insurance program.AppleApple CEO Tim Cook addressed concerns about Texas' fetal heartbeat bill during a town hall meeting in September. The company soon followed up with a memo that called the bill "uniquely restrictive," and said the employee health plan covers participants who "travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state."CitigroupCiti, which has roughly 8,500 employees in Texas, notified investors in a March filing that "In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources."AmazonOn May 2, just hours before news of the Supreme Court draft decision broke, Amazon told employees it would cover up to $4,000 per year in travel costs related to non-life threatening medical treatments, including elective abortion. The policy covers both corporate and warehouse workers and their dependents who are enrolled in the company's Premera or Aetna health plans.SalesforceShortly after the Texas bill passed in September, Salesforce told employees via its internal messaging system: "If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family."Yelp"Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies," Yelp said in a statement on Tuesday. "Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy."In explaining Yelp's decision cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in a different state from the one where they live, chief diversity officer Miriam Warren previously told Insider, "This is not a new issue for Yelp; this is a new benefit.""Our company and our CEO have long been invested in promoting gender equity," she continued, "the possibility of which is diminished when women don't have control over their own reproductive health."LyftIn response to the "heartbeat" abortion bans recently passed in Oklahoma and Texas, Lyft announced it would cover the legal fees of drivers sued in either state for transporting passengers to abortion providers. The ride-share company said it is also working with healthcare partners to cover transportation costs to airports and clinics for women in Oklahoma and Texas seeking out-of-state abortion care. Lyft's US medical benefits include coverage for elective abortions. On April 29, the company said it will cover the transportation costs for employees seeking abortions outside of Texas and Oklahoma. UberUber announced it would also cover drivers' legal fees soon after Lyft. "Drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter, referring to a provision that allows private citizens to sue individuals "aiding and abetting" an illegal abortion and creates a $10,000 "reward" for successful lawsuits.MatchMatch Group CEO Shar Dubey created a fund for Texas-based employees seeking healthcare services outside of the state following the "heartbeat" abortion ban. "I'm not speaking about this as the CEO of a company," Dubey said. "I'm speaking about this personally, as a mother and a woman who has fervently cared about women's rights, including the very fundamental right of choice over her body."BumbleBumble created a relief fund for organizations supporting Texans' reproductive rights. The $6.6 billion company founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 tweeted that it was "women-founded and women-led," and would "keep fighting against regressive laws like SB8." Bumble and Match were some of the first Texas-based tech companies to speak out against the ban. "We are dismayed by the rumors of the Supreme Court decision that was leaked last night," a Bumble spokesperson said Tuesday. "At Bumble, we believe strongly in women's right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all ... The health and safety of our team is our utmost priority and that includes covering access to abortion care. We will continue to partner with organizations that work to provide reproductive access to all." DellIn response to TX SB8, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell sent an email to all Texas employees on Wednesday, September 8 that said: "Our leadership team is carefully reviewing the implications of recent legislation on our business and on you, our team members."  While the internal message did not mention SB8 by name, Dell wrote that "there's much we still don't know about how all of these laws will ultimately play out" and the company's "goal is for you to have more (health) coverage, not less."A Dell spokesperson declined to comment on the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked Monday, adding that the company's focus "is on our team members and supporting them with the benefits and support they need."Levi'sLevi's employees, including part-time retail workers, can seek reimbursement for travel expenses related to seeking an abortion in another state."Protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, is a critical business issue. Efforts to further restrict or criminalize that access would have far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the US economy and our nation's pursuit of gender and racial equity.It would jeopardize workplace gains women have made over the past 50 years, disproportionately impact women of color and force companies to implement different health policies for different locations. Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights," Levi Strauss & Co said Tuesday in a statement shared with Insider. LushLush Handmade Cosmetics said in January that it's reviewing healthcare coverage to ensure all US staff can access abortion services. "We are fraught with concern for the state of women's rights in this country. Not only because Lush employs over 80% of women but because we know access to safe reproductive care, including abortion is an essential part of a healthy workforce and community. For seven months we've been campaigning for the right to access to abortion for all in TX, FL, OH, MO, AK and OK.The leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion confirms our worst fears and we are currently exploring ways to support impacted staff with inclusive and equitable care. But this 'fix' can only be temporary from the business community, we need legislation like the Women's Health Protection Act, passed to reflect the will of the majority of the country and ensure that women's rights are affirmed as what they are — human rights," Brandi Halls, Chief Ethics Officer for Lush Cosmetics North America, said in a statement shared with Insider on Tuesday. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 16th, 2022

Tesla joins Amazon, Apple, and Citi as the latest company to cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different states. Here"s how companies are pushing back against increasing restrictions.

With the Supreme Court possibly poised to overturn decades of precedent on abortion, some employers are taking steps to ensure workers receive care. Protesters, demonstrators and activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the abortion-rights ruling under Roe v Wade. Companies like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are expanding support for workers seeking abortion. Here is a list of major companies taking steps in response to any rollback of reproductive rights. In a surprise leak, a Supreme Court majority decision appears poised to overturn decades of settled law in reversing the constitutional right to abortion under Roe v Wade.On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft document was real, but said the court has not yet reached a final ruling.Though the leak itself was unexpected, it follows a concerted effort that has long been underway in many Republican-controlled states to severely limit access to abortion.Several large companies with employees located in places like Texas and Oklahoma have announced their own initiatives to preserve access to medical treatments that are in the process of being criminalized by state lawmakers. 26 states are "certain or likely" to ban abortion if Roe is struck down, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. Employers like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are specifically including abortion in their expansion of existing benefits programs, which reimburse employees for travel costs related to seeking medical care that is not available near the employee's home.Others like Uber and Lyft have pledged support for transportation for people seeking abortions, as well as legally defending drivers against abortion related lawsuits.Below is a list of major companies and how they are responding to rollbacks of reproductive rights.TeslaThe electric carmaker, which officially relocated its headquarters to Texas in December, announced in a report on Friday that it has offered "travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state" since 2021 under its Safety Net and health insurance program.AppleApple CEO Tim Cook addressed concerns about Texas' fetal heartbeat bill during a town hall meeting in September. The company soon followed up with a memo that called the bill "uniquely restrictive," and said the employee health plan covers participants who "travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state."CitigroupCiti, which has roughly 8,500 employees in Texas, notified investors in a March filing that "In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources."AmazonOn Monday, just hours before news of the Supreme Court drafted decision broke, Amazon told employees it would cover up to $4,000 per year in travel costs related to non-life threatening medical treatments, including elective abortion. The policy covers both corporate and warehouse workers and their dependents who are enrolled in the company's Premera or Aetna health plans.SalesforceShortly after the Texas bill passed in September, Salesforce told employees via its internal messaging system: "If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family."Yelp"Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies," Yelp said in a statement on Tuesday. "Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy."In explaining Yelp's decision cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in a different state from the one where they live, chief diversity officer Miriam Warren previously told Insider, "This is not a new issue for Yelp; this is a new benefit.""Our company and our CEO have long been invested in promoting gender equity," she continued, "the possibility of which is diminished when women don't have control over their own reproductive health."LyftIn response to the "heartbeat" abortion bans recently passed in Oklahoma and Texas, Lyft announced it would cover the legal fees of drivers sued in either state for transporting passengers to abortion providers. The ride-share company said it is also working with healthcare partners to cover transportation costs to airports and clinics for women in Oklahoma and Texas seeking out-of-state abortion care. Lyft's US medical benefits include coverage for elective abortions. On April 29, the company said it will cover the transportation costs for employees seeking abortions outside of Texas and Oklahoma. UberUber announced it would also cover drivers' legal fees soon after Lyft. "Drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter, referring to a provision that allows private citizens to sue individuals "aiding and abetting" an illegal abortion and creates a $10,000 "reward" for successful lawsuits.MatchMatch Group CEO Shar Dubey created a fund for Texas-based employees seeking healthcare services outside of the state following the "heartbeat" abortion ban. "I'm not speaking about this as the CEO of a company," Dubey said. "I'm speaking about this personally, as a mother and a woman who has fervently cared about women's rights, including the very fundamental right of choice over her body."BumbleBumble created a relief fund for organizations supporting Texans' reproductive rights. The $6.6 billion company founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 tweeted that it was "women-founded and women-led," and would "keep fighting against regressive laws like SB8." Bumble and Match were some of the first Texas-based tech companies to speak out against the ban. "We are dismayed by the rumors of the Supreme Court decision that was leaked last night," a Bumble spokesperson said Tuesday. "At Bumble, we believe strongly in women's right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all ... The health and safety of our team is our utmost priority and that includes covering access to abortion care. We will continue to partner with organizations that work to provide reproductive access to all." DellIn response to TX SB8, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell sent an email to all Texas employees on Wednesday, September 8 that said: "Our leadership team is carefully reviewing the implications of recent legislation on our business and on you, our team members."  While the internal message did not mention SB8 by name, Dell wrote that "there's much we still don't know about how all of these laws will ultimately play out" and the company's "goal is for you to have more (health) coverage, not less."A Dell spokesperson declined to comment on the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked Monday, adding that the company's focus "is on our team members and supporting them with the benefits and support they need."Levi'sLevi's employees, including part-time retail workers, can seek reimbursement for travel expenses related to seeking an abortion in another state."Protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, is a critical business issue. Efforts to further restrict or criminalize that access would have far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the US economy and our nation's pursuit of gender and racial equity.It would jeopardize workplace gains women have made over the past 50 years, disproportionately impact women of color and force companies to implement different health policies for different locations. Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights," Levi Strauss & Co said Tuesday in a statement shared with Insider. LushLush Handmade Cosmetics said in January that it's reviewing healthcare coverage to ensure all US staff can access abortion services. "We are fraught with concern for the state of women's rights in this country. Not only because Lush employs over 80% of women but because we know access to safe reproductive care, including abortion is an essential part of a healthy workforce and community. For seven months we've been campaigning for the right to access to abortion for all in TX, FL, OH, MO, AK and OK.The leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion confirms our worst fears and we are currently exploring ways to support impacted staff with inclusive and equitable care. But this 'fix' can only be temporary from the business community, we need legislation like the Women's Health Protection Act, passed to reflect the will of the majority of the country and ensure that women's rights are affirmed as what they are — human rights," Brandi Halls, Chief Ethics Officer for Lush Cosmetics North America, said in a statement shared with Insider on Tuesday. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 6th, 2022

The Legal Status Of Abortion Worldwide

The Legal Status Of Abortion Worldwide According to a leaked draft opinion reported on by Politico, the U.S. supreme court has provisionally voted to overturn Roe v Wade - the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide in the United States. Reproductive rights have been put under a lot of pressure in some parts of the country recently, and an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute predicts that around half of U.S. states will take advantage of Roe v Wade being overturned by banning abortions completely. You will find more infographics at Statista However, as Statista's Martin Armstrong notes, the story is very different elsewhere in the world. You will find more infographics at Statista In February this year, Colombia decriminalized abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. This was the latest step forward for reproductive rights in Latin America after a more conservative but nevertheless significant decriminalization in Mexico in September 2021. In January 2021, Argentina had become the largest Latin American country to legalize abortion. This occurred despite opposition from the Catholic church and represented a considerable milestone in a highly conservative region. Asia has also seen moves in favor of reproductive rights. Effective from the start of 2021, South Korea decriminalized abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy. In Thailand, parliament voted in January 2021 to make abortion legal within the 12 weeks, although penalties are still in place for those who terminate later in their pregnancies. This world map uses data from The Center for Reproductive Rights to show the state of global abortion laws at the start of 2021. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/04/2022 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 4th, 2022

Yelp calls on Congress and corporate peers to defend abortion rights: "This goes against the will of the vast majority of Americans"

Yelp defended abortion rights after the Supreme Court's draft opinion leaked, signaling the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling would be overturned. Yelp recently joined Citigroup and Apple in covering travel costs for workers seeking abortions.Yelp A leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court indicates that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. A Yelp spokesperson decried the draft opinion and called on Congress to take action. Insider previously spoke with Yelp's head of diversity on why abortion is a business issue.  A leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court indicates that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The official decision is expected to come before the end of the court's term. The draft majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito and obtained by POLITICO, would overturn the 1973 landmark ruling that established constitutional right to an abortion.  In a statement to Insider, tech company Yelp spoke out against the decision and called on Congress to pass legislation that codifies abortion rights. A company spokesperson also is calling on other companies to take extra measures to protect employees, particularly women who may seek abortions. "Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies, Yelp's statement said. "Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy. This goes against the will of the vast majority of Americans who agree that decisions around reproductive care should be made by women and their doctors. Therefore Congress must codify these rights into law. In the meantime, more companies will need to step up to safeguard their employees, and provide equal access to the health services they need no matter where they live," a Yelp spokesperson said via email.Last week, Yelp said it will reimburse employees who need to travel to access abortion services. About 200 Yelp employees live in Texas, one of the states to recently enact a near-abortion ban. Yelp joined the ranks of a few other outliers like Citi and Apple, who have recently announced similar benefits.   Corporate America is in a new era of leadership, where CEOs can no longer afford to stay silent on huge issues like racial inequity, voting rights, and the war in Ukraine. But abortion and reproductive rights seem to be an outlier to this rule. In April, Oklahoma became the latest state to enact a near-total ban on abortion, following Texas, Arizona, South Dakota, and Idaho.  In an interview last week–before the Supreme Court draft was leaked–Yelp's chief diversity officer Miriam Warren offered her perspective on abortion rights saying that abortion restrictions are a matter of employee health and safety. In an interview with Insider via email, the Yelp exec spoke about why the company's leadership felt compelled to take a stand and the state of corporate leadership today. Miriam Warren, Yelp's chief diversity officer, said abortion rights are an employee-health and DEI issue.YelpYelp is the latest employer to cover travel costs for employees seeking an abortion. Based on the timing, it appears that the recent Texas law banning abortions after six weeks (titled SB8) was the tipping point. Why was that?This is not a new issue for Yelp; this is a new benefit. Our company and our CEO have long been invested in promoting gender equity, the possibility of which is diminished when women don't have control over their own reproductive health. SB8 was definitely a turning point and sparked the conversation about what we could do to support equal access to healthcare for all of our employees in the face of such draconian restrictions. Unfortunately, we're seeing laws that limit women's progress — in and out of the workplace — are gaining momentum in other states as well. Walk me through the decision. How long was Yelp leadership discussing this? Whose idea was it? How long did it take to roll this out, and what did that process look like?Our employees care about this issue, and they care about Yelp caring about this issue. In the wake of SB8, we immediately took a firm stance condemning the law. The Yelp Foundation also double-matched employee donations to organizations fighting against reproductive healthcare restrictions.Initially, we were hopeful that there would be judicial intervention to stop SB8, and when that did not occur in December 2021, it became clear that we would need to approach our insurance providers about how we could evolve our benefits to make sure all of our employees retained the ability to get the medical care that they need.  As a distributed remote-first company with employees in all 50 states, we wanted to put a forward-looking and sustainable policy in place to ensure that whatever changes we made would support employees and their dependents, regardless of their chosen residence.Why did Yelp roll out this benefit?We've long been a strong advocate for equity in the workplace and believe that gender equity cannot be achieved if women's rights are restricted. The health and safety of our employees is our top priority, and we wanted to offer them consistent healthcare coverage.Our insurance provider has always covered abortion and other reproductive services. Now they will also cover travel expenses for employees and dependents to obtain these services if they're locally prohibited. This benefit will be provided directly through our insurance provider to covered employees and their dependents impacted by current or future action that restricts access to covered reproductive healthcare.  How is abortion access a diversity, equity, and inclusion issue?This is a restriction on equality that all employers should take a really hard look at. Measures that limit a woman's right to choose are damaging and have wide-ranging implications on women's careers and their lives.Fundamentally, inclusion is about everyone having equitable opportunities for success. In this case, we're talking about approximately 50% of the population facing greater challenges to full participation in the workforce. Companies that profess to care about issues of equity, inclusion, and belonging must care about this issue, just like they should care about any barrier to success that disproportionately affects a particular population.In order for our organization to uphold its values and provide an equitable environment where everyone has the same opportunities, we cannot stand idly by in the face of legislation that would limit 50% of the population's autonomy and self-determination in the form of how and when to expand their family.This is a systemic issue that disproportionately affects poor women and women of color, who already have less access to comprehensive healthcare, including contraception. When compounded by the lack of access to legal abortions, combined with medical racism, these restrictive laws may lead to higher rates of mortality.Execs are increasingly being asked to speak out on social issues. They're also being asked to care for the whole employee and be more inclusive. But for a while, company leaders were silent on abortion rights. Why do you think this has changed?Fundamentally, over the last decade, the employee-employer social contract has changed. Our work is inside our homes and employees expect more than a paycheck; they expect to be cared for by their employer and to be able to show up in the workplace as their whole professional selves.As an employer with a globally distributed workforce, it's crucial for us to consider the health, wellbeing, equity, and inclusion of all of our employees and to support them where they are. Access to abortion and, more broadly, reproductive health care supports equitable participation in the workforce for everyone – including birthing parents and their partners.Any other thoughts? The more this is talked about, the more likely it is that other companies will take a look at their own stance on these issues. I hope that by continuing to engage in this conversation, we can inspire others to do more to care for all of their employees.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 3rd, 2022

Amazon, Apple, and Citi are covering travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different states. Here"s how companies are pushing back against increasing restrictions.

With the Supreme Court possibly poised to overturn decades of precedent on abortion, some employers are taking steps to ensure workers receive care. Protesters, demonstrators and activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the abortion-rights ruling under Roe v Wade. Companies like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are expanding support for workers seeking abortion. Here is a list of major companies taking steps in response to any rollback of reproductive rights. In a surprise leak, a Supreme Court majority decision appears poised to overturn decades of settled law in reversing the constitutional right to abortion under Roe v Wade.On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft document was real, but said the court has not yet reached a final ruling.Though the leak itself was unexpected, it follows a concerted effort that has long been underway in many Republican-controlled states to severely limit access to abortion.Several large companies with employees located in places like Texas and Oklahoma have announced their own initiatives to preserve access to medical treatments that are in the process of being criminalized by state lawmakers. 26 states are "certain or likely" to ban abortion if Roe is struck down, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. Employers like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are specifically including abortion in their expansion of existing benefits programs, which reimburse employees for travel costs related to seeking medical care that is not available near the employee's home.Others like Uber and Lyft have pledged support for transportation for people seeking abortions, as well as legally defending drivers against abortion related lawsuits.Below is a list of major companies and how they are responding to rollbacks of reproductive rights.AppleApple CEO Tim Cook addressed concerns about Texas' fetal heartbeat bill during a town hall meeting in September. The company soon followed up with a memo that called the bill "uniquely restrictive," and said the employee health plan covers participants who "travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state."CitigroupCiti, which has roughly 8,500 employees in Texas, notified investors in a March filing that "In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources."AmazonOn Monday, just hours before news of the Supreme Court drafted decision broke, Amazon told employees it would cover up to $4,000 per year in travel costs related to non-life threatening medical treatments, including elective abortion. The policy covers both corporate and warehouse workers and their dependents who are enrolled in the company's Premera or Aetna health plans.SalesforceShortly after the Texas bill passed in September, Salesforce told employees via its internal messaging system: "If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family."Yelp"Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies," Yelp said in a statement on Tuesday. "Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy."In explaining Yelp's decision cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in a different state from the one where they live, chief diversity officer Miriam Warren previously told Insider, "This is not a new issue for Yelp; this is a new benefit.""Our company and our CEO have long been invested in promoting gender equity," she continued, "the possibility of which is diminished when women don't have control over their own reproductive health."LyftIn response to the Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, Lyft announced it would cover the legal fees for any drivers sued for transporting passengers to receive abortion services. The company also pledged $1 million to Planned Parenthood "to help ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access."TX SB8 threatens to punish drivers for getting people where they need to go— especially women exercising their right to choose," Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green tweeted in September. UberUber announced it would also cover drivers' legal fees soon after Lyft. "Drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter, referring to a provision that allows private citizens to sue individuals "aiding and abetting" an illegal abortion and creates a $10,000 "reward" for successful lawsuits.MatchMatch Group CEO Shar Dubey created a fund for Texas-based employees seeking healthcare services outside of the state following the "heartbeat" abortion ban. "I'm not speaking about this as the CEO of a company," Dubey said. "I'm speaking about this personally, as a mother and a woman who has fervently cared about women's rights, including the very fundamental right of choice over her body."BumbleBumble created a relief fund for organizations supporting Texans' reproductive rights.The $6.6 billion company founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 tweeted that it was "women-founded and women-led," and would "keep fighting against regressive laws like SB8." Bumble and Match were some of the first Texas-based tech companies to speak out against the ban. "We are dismayed by the rumors of the Supreme Court decision that was leaked last night. At Bumble, we believe strongly in women's right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all ... The health and safety of our team is our utmost priority and that includes covering access to abortion care. We will continue to partner with organizations that work to provide reproductive access to all," a Bumble spokesperson said Tuesday. DellIn response to TX SB8, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell sent an email to all Texas employees on Wednesday, September 8 that said: "Our leadership team is carefully reviewing the implications of recent legislation on our business and on you, our team members."  While the internal message did not mention SB8 by name, Dell wrote that "there's much we still don't know about how all of these laws will ultimately play out" and the company's "goal is for you to have more (health) coverage, not less."A Dell spokesperson declined to comment on the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked Monday, adding that the company's focus "is on our team members and supporting them with the benefits and support they need."Levi'sLevi's employees, including part-time retail workers, can seek reimbursement for travel expenses related to seeking an abortion in another state, the LA Times and others have reported.LushLush Handmade Cosmetics said in January that it's reviewing its company healthcare coverage to ensure all US staff can access abortion services. "We are fraught with concern for the state of women's rights in this country. Not only because Lush employs over 80% of women but because we know access to safe reproductive care, including abortion is an essential part of a healthy workforce and community. For seven months we've been campaigning for the right to access to abortion for all in TX, FL, OH, MO, AK and OK.The leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion confirms our worst fears and we are currently exploring ways to support impacted staff with inclusive and equitable care. But this 'fix' can only be temporary from the business community, we need legislation like the Women's Health Protection Act, passed to reflect the will of the majority of the country and ensure that women's rights are affirmed as what they are — human rights," Brandi Halls, Chief Ethics Officer for Lush Cosmetics North America, said in a statement shared with Insider on Tuesday. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 3rd, 2022

Destroying Democracy To Save It? Court Advances Effort To Block GOP Candidates From Ballots

Destroying Democracy To Save It? Court Advances Effort To Block GOP Candidates From Ballots Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in the Hill on the recent decision of a federal judge to allow a challenge to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) from appearing on the ballot as an insurrectionist. In my view, the underlying claim is meritless. The theory, supported by figures like Harvard Professor Lawrence Tribe, runs against the clear language and history of the Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment. Here is the column: As the country braces for the midterm elections, the left seems to be rallying behind three D’s: Democracy, Disinformation and Disqualification. The latter effort just received a huge boost from a judge in Georgia who has allowed a challenge to knock Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) off the ballot as an insurrectionist. Nothing says “democracy” like preventing others from voting. Many of us have criticized Greene for her inflammatory rhetoric and her extreme views. No less dangerous, though, is the means being used by some of Greene’s critics to get rid of her. It is all part of a new movement to defend democracy by denying it. To paraphrase the Vietnam strategy, democracy can only be saved by destroying it through the denial of speech or the right to vote. Many Democratic politicians and pundits have long pushed for censorship as vital to freedom. However, if such freedom-is-tyranny claims seem Orwellian, they are nothing compared to the push to disqualify dozens of candidates from appearing on ballots. Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that critics could potentially strip Greene from the ballot due to her public comments before and after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in Congress. Totenberg ruled that Greene’s critics could bring a challenge under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, known as the “Disqualification Clause.” This is the same clause cited by some liberal members of Congress and legal experts as a way to bar dozens of Republicans, including former President Trump, from office for allegedly engaging in insurrection against the United States or giving aid and comfort to its enemies. This argument most recently was used against Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who also has been opposed by House colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Cawthorn prevailed in a federal court, which dismissed that effort; an appeal of that ruling will be heard May 3 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va. There are similar efforts to block members like Arizona GOP Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs from appearing on state ballots. Totenberg gave a green light to these constitutional claims despite both the constitutional text and history showing that the claims are meritless. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was written after the 39th Congress convened in December 1865, following the end of the Civil War. At the time, many members were not pleased to see former Confederates like Alexander Stephens (D-Ga.), the Confederacy’s vice president, appear in Congress to retake the very oath they previously violated by waging war against the country. Whether Jan. 6 was a riot or an actual insurrection remains a matter of deep and largely partisan disagreement — but the disqualification clause was written in reference to a real Civil War in which more than 750,000 people died in combat. The Confederacy was a separate government with its own army, currency and foreign policy. There is another problem: To the extent that a person can be disqualified under the 14th Amendment, it requires action from Congress, not a local board of election. Despite an otherwise long, careful opinion, Totenberg blithely set aside such details, including an 1869 decision by then-Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. The case in question challenged the right of Hugh W. Sheffey to hold a Virginia state court office, given his support for the Confederacy. Chase ruled that Section 3 did not disqualify Sheffey because “legislation by Congress is necessary to give effect to” Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and disqualification from office “can only be provided for by Congress.” Congress later passed the Amnesty Act of 1872, which overrode the Disqualification Clause except for “Senators and Representatives of the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh Congresses.” The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states cannot impose their own qualifications for Congress because it would “erode the structure envisioned by the Framers.” Under such an approach, partisan state election boards could simply conclude that a member is an insurrectionist and prevent voters from being able to make such choices for themselves. Totenberg simply insists that barring an insurrectionist is the same as barring someone from running for president who is not a natural-born citizen or who does not meet the age requirement for Congress. However, age and citizenship are easily ascertainable qualifications stated in the Constitution for all candidates. There is no additional finding or action required for such disqualifications. Totenberg is suggesting that a local board declaring a representative to be an insurrectionist is the same as confirming the age or place of birth of a candidate. Countries like Iran routinely strike candidates from ballots due to their underlying views or perceived disloyalty. Just as free speech allows good ideas to counteract bad ideas, free elections allow good candidates to prevail over bad candidates. The problem is that you have to be willing to live with the judgment of your fellow citizens rather than control what they read or who they may vote for. In fairness to the court, Totenberg complained that “the parties devoted little time and few pages to the complicated questions inspired by this novel situation.” As such, she did not feel comfortable in granting an injunction for Greene. However, that expression of reluctance at the end of the opinion belies the sweeping language used to get there. With the other pending cases, this issue may now be headed for a Supreme Court showdown. In the meantime, the Democrats will likely see in November whether the “three D’s” resonate as well with voters as they did with this judge. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/23/2022 - 19:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 23rd, 2022

Providers are scrambling as Florida"s abortion "safe haven" for out-of-staters nears its end under the 15-week ban Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed into law

Until today, Florida has had some of the loosest abortion regulations in the US. Patients travel there not just from nearby states but from Puerto Rico, the Caribbeans, and South America. Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, co-executive director of Florida Access Network at her home office in Orlando, Florida.Courtesy Juan Raul Piñeiro Florida has long allowed abortion until 24 weeks into a pregnancy, making it a safe haven.  But a new law will ban abortions after 15 weeks starting July 1.  Providers will have to find ways to offer transportation, lodging, and other support to patients. These days, Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro receives about 60 requests a week from people who need help getting an abortion. As the co-executive director of Florida Access Network, it's her job to make sure the organization's clients have money for gas, food, or a hotel room. She'll help people think of options for childcare and how to fundraise for the procedure. She will line up volunteer drivers. "My role as a facilitator is to make sure people get the support and services they need free from stigma and with as much love and support as possible," Piñeiro told Insider from her home office in Orlando. She estimates that 15% of the people she helps are from outside of Florida. They increasingly are coming from neighboring states where abortion clinics are rare and regulations are getting tighter, places where the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision establishing the right to abortion is largely meaningless. That's because, despite the state's recent red voting patterns, Florida has had some of the loosest regulations on abortion in the US. Patients travel there not just from nearby states but from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and South America. "A few states such as Florida and Illinois have been safe havens in highly restrictive regions," said Debasri Ghosh, managing director at the National Network of Abortion Funds. "They have seen an influx of patients from out of state."By this summer, however, a growing part of Piñeiro's job will include supporting people who need to leave Florida if they want an abortion after roughly the first trimester. On Thursday, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy. The law would take effect July 1 unless a court intervenes. "Thousands of patients who usually get care closer to home will now be driven further away and out of state," said Samantha Deans, an obstetrician-gynecologist who provides abortions as associate medical director of Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. The new law comes as a relief to organizations that oppose abortion. They have long seethed at Florida's laws, which allowed abortions for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, close to the third trimester. Florida clinics provided 76,648 abortions in 2021, state data show. "We never wanted Florida to be an abortion destination," Lynda Bell, president of Florida Right to Life, told Insider. "That's the last thing we want for Florida."The GOP-controlled legislature became emboldened to crack down on abortion after DeSantis appointed conservative justices to the state Supreme Court. Republicans also expect the US Supreme Court will overturn or chip away at Roe by the summer. The 6-3 conservative majority is readying a ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson, a case that will determine the legality of a Mississippi law that, like Florida, bars abortion past 15 weeks gestation. "There is so much positive evidence that our cause is winning," said Mallory Carroll, spokeswoman for Susan B. Anthony List, a national organization that supports candidates who pledge to fight for tighter anti-abortion laws. "There are a significant number of abortions happening post 15 weeks in Florida — more than 3,300 according to the most recent state health department data — so this will save lives," she said. Florida Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat, is running for governor to unseat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.Wilfredo Lee/AP PhotoMapping out travel routesOrganizations that provide abortions have already been mapping out travel routes. The further people have to travel, the more complicated and expensive abortion care becomes, said Ghosh from the National Network of Abortion Funds. The organization has become busier in the last decade, she said, as more states have imposed restrictions."Calls have skyrocketed starting with the pandemic and carrying over now to this wave of bans we are seeing move through legislatures," Ghosh said. According to Deans from Planned Parenthood, North Carolina would be the next closest location for Floridians who are seeking abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy, but she expects state lawmakers will soon curb access there. That then leaves patients going further north to places such as Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and New York. Planned Parenthood will work to increase access to abortion earlier in pregnancy by opening more appointment slots, hiring more doctors, and reducing wait times, Deans said.  "We are already so busy with the influx from other states," she said. "Our appointments can be four weeks away. That's inappropriate if we are staring down the barrel of a 15-week ban. We don't want to be a barrier to women not being able to access care." Abortion rights supporters could also battle the Florida law legally or politically. State Sen. Annette Taddeo, who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to unseat DeSantis, told Insider that if elected she would challenge the 15-week ban in court given that Florida's constitution guarantees a "right to privacy."With a GOP-controlled legislature, she would not be able to codify Roe into state law as governor. Therefore, Taddeo said, she wanted to be "realistic" about the promises she makes on abortion rights, so she recently asked experts to research how she could expand abortion access through executive actions. "Florida has been the place to come where you could drive here and not be as restricted," Taddeo said. "Now we are joining many of these southern states." Members of the Florida House of Representatives convene during a legislative session April 30, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.Wilfredo Lee/AP PhotoAnti-abortion groups are gearing up for new law Anti-abortion groups both nationally and locally say they're also strategizing for the new law. Last week, congressional Republicans began circulating talking points that argued communities are already supporting families by increasing funding for pregnancy care centers as well as access to childcare and paid family leave.  Neither childcare nor paid leave is universal in the US. Pregnancy Care Centers vary in what they offer, but are typically faith-based and work to dissuade patients from abortion while offering emotional and financial support, and sometimes also provide medical services. Florida's health department pays $4.5 million toward these organizations. This week, on top of the 15-week ban, a circuit judge allowed a 24-hour waiting period to take effect in Florida.Bell of Florida Right to Life said organizations like hers needed to push back on messages that tell women having a baby would ruin their education or careers, or increase their chances of living in poverty. "If abortion was banned tomorrow our job gets much harder," Bell said. "We need to be there for education and to provide services for women." She also noted the law, formally called the Fetal and Infant Mortality Act, includes provisions to reduce smoking during pregnancy and directs health agencies to propose ways for reducing fetal and infant mortality. Republican state lawmakers tackled family legislation this session that went beyond abortion. This week DeSantis signed a bill into law to encourage fathers to be in their children's lives and fund mentorship programs for fatherless children. He also signed a bill into law that expands funding for foster care.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a child welfare bill he signed, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at Miami Dade College in Miami. The bill increased benefits for foster care parents, guardians, and children.Wilfredo Lee/AP PhotoMost US voters support limits on late-pregnancy abortionAbortion rights organizations won't have an easy job fighting a Florida-style law. DeSantis is widely considered to be a 2024 GOP candidate for president, and polling shows that single-issue voters on abortion are more likely to identify as "pro-life" than "pro-choice." Polling also shows most voters support restrictions on abortion later in pregnancy. Permitting later abortions is out of step from what most other countries allow. But abortion rights organizations contend there should be no cutoffs. Patients who need late-pregnancy abortions have received a devastating medical diagnosis, are in vulnerable situations, or didn't know they were pregnant, Deans said.Others may have wanted to have an abortion sooner but didn't because of restrictions in their states that forced them to take the time to save money to travel elsewhere. By the time they can get an abortion, they're further along in their pregnancies than they'd hoped to be, even past the 15-week mark, Deans said. She added that voters who oppose late-pregnancy abortions don't have the full story. "If they see what I see, if they spoke to the women I did, if they saw what their decisions are, they would feel very differently," Deans said, citing the story of an 11-year-old girl who came to her 23 weeks pregnant after being raped by a family member. The new Florida law doesn't have exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking. Of 4,838 abortions performed in the second trimester in Florida, three were performed in cases of incest, and 14 were performed in cases of rape, state data from 2021 show.The law provides exemptions if the pregnancy is life-threatening or would cause serious injury, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. But Deans said the law's language is too broad, and doctors won't want to risk going to prison if they have doubts about whether a condition is fatal."Asking that patient to make a time-limited decision is cruel," Deans said. "It can take weeks for a person to wrap their minds around what's going on and make a decision." Anti-abortion advocates are against abortion even in such circumstances. Instead, they favor letting fetuses die naturally or having hospitals provide perinatal hospice, which alleviates a baby's pain after birth and allows families to spend time with the infant before death.No comprehensive data exist on why abortions happen in the third trimester. When they do, they cost thousands of dollars and can take several days.For Florida Access Network, trying to help a patient get an abortion early in pregnancy whenever possible helps to minimize costs and other logistical hurdles, Piñeiro said. The organization contributes about $250 per abortion, though people generally report that they need between $700 to $4,000, given that they may also need help with lost wages if they have to take time off work.  Piñeiro will not only help people get the funding they need through various organizations and fundraising tools but will tell them about how she got two abortions when she was a teenager, including after one pregnancy that was the result of sexual assault. The organization has a staff of five based in Orlando and Jacksonville, as well as a network of volunteers all over the state. There are times when last-minute requests will come in and Piñeiro has to run off to drive clients to appointments. "We wish we didn't have to exist," she said. "I wish we lived in a country that made sure to take care of their people, that made sure to provide healthcare at an affordable rate, and that abortion was included." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 14th, 2022

Florida is about to have a 24-hour abortion waiting period, just as 15-week ban looms

"Twenty-four hours is the minimum time needed to sleep on such an important decision," wrote Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey. Activists hold up their fists at a rally put on by the "Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights" group in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 2022 in Washington, DC.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images A law to make patients wait 24 hours before having an abortion has been on the books for years.  Until now, it has been held up in court but a judge is going to allow it. The date it becomes law isn't clear just yet.  Patients in Florida will soon have to wait 24 hours after seeing a doctor before they're allowed to have an abortion. The day-long waiting period had been a Sunshine State law since 2015. But until Friday it was mired in court battles over its constitutionality that prevented it from taking effect.Things changed when Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey threw out a legal challenge to the law, saying that other medical procedures had similar waiting periods, as did decisions such as getting married, divorced, or buying a gun. "Twenty-four hours is the minimum time needed to sleep on such an important decision," Dempsey wrote. Dempsey indicated last month that she would rule this way. She will still have to sign one more item of paperwork before the law goes into formal effect, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged Florida's law. The judge's ruling gives abortion providers until April 30 to change up appointments. The ACLU said it was still assessing what to do next, said Julia Kaye, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project who argued against the ban during a virtual court hearing in March. The new waiting period will be in place just as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is poised to sign a bill into law that would further restrict abortion access by limiting the procedure to 15 weeks into a pregnancy. That law would take effect July 1. Under current state law, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.  Lynda Bell, president of Florida Right to Life, said the organization was "very pleased" with the decision on the 24-hour waiting period."It makes perfect sense and it protects women from very hasty life-changing, lifelong decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives," she said. "This common-sense, life-affirming legislation will prevent very hasty decisions."The Florida Attorney General's office, arguing in favor of the ban, wrote in a February 8 motion that the state "has a compelling interest in promoting informed consent for abortions regardless of the stage of pregnancy, and a 24-hour waiting period is the shortest reasonable time to assure that women will be positioned to consider the required disclosures away from the pressures of a doctor's office." The waiting period could be waived only in cases of rape, incest, domestic violence, or human trafficking, and a patient would have to offer proof in the form of a police report, court order, or medical report to qualify for an exemption. Abortion rights groups warn both abortion measures would affect not just Floridians but patients from other Southern states and Texas, as well as Caribbean and South American countries. Women from those parts of  the US and beyond travel to Florida because abortion access is more restricted where they live. A 24-hour waiting period would even apply to patients who already have abortions scheduled for after the effective date, meaning they'll have to make additional arrangements.Andrew Everett, an ACLU spokesman, warned that Dempsey's decision would throw "healthcare operations and patients' schedules into turmoil across the State of Florida by requiring an extra, medically unnecessary trip to the clinic."Supporters of abortion rights worry that patients with limited financial support will be the most affected given that they'll need to arrange for time off work and childcare, as well as hotel and meals if they're traveling long distances.The ACLU presented such evidence before the court, including a study that concluded the cost of accessing abortion care would rise by at least $200 under the waiting period, said Julia Kaye, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project who argued against the ban during a virtual court hearing."We have built up a mountain of evidence detailing the wide range of har that this delay law is going to cause for Floridians," Kaye said in a March interview. "In practice this is not going to be a 24-hour delay. For most people it's going to be at least a multi-day delay and for many patients it would result in a delay for weeks later than patients might otherwise choose," Kaye said. Samantha Deans, a physician who is associate medical director of Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida, said patients would be "squeezed on both sides" by the new abortion restrictions. "We are being told abortion needs to be limited to 15 weeks and simultaneously we say women need 24 hours to decide," Deans told Insider in a March interview. A view of the U.S. Supreme Court at sunset on November 29, 2021 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesSupreme Court is considering the legality of abortionUnder the new waiting period law, patients would have to go to an initial counseling appointment with an abortion provider and then wait 24 hours before they can have the abortion. The counseling session must happen in person and would not be permitted over the phone or over video. Former Florida Gov. Rick Scott, now a US senator, signed the 24-hour waiting period bill into law in 2015."The importance of this bill is to give women an opportunity to reflect on a major decision that they are about to undertake — a major medical procedure that will have lifelong effects, not just physically but mentally as well," state Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, said at the time.It briefly took effect in 2016 but the state Supreme Court blocked it in 2017 after a challenge from the ACLU. The battle over the law has since continued in the lower courts. Dempsey is a 2005 appointee of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.The future of Florida and other states' laws against abortion are heavily contingent on the US Supreme Court. This summer the justices are expected to issue a decision on Dobbs v. Jackson, a case that will decide whether Mississippi, and possibly other states, can uphold its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.A decision in favor of the ban would effectively overturn the high court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which allows abortion for up to fetal viability, generally understood to be roughly 24 weeks into a pregnancy. It would also touch on the lesser-known Supreme Court decision Doe v. Bolton, which was issued on the same day as Roe v. Wade, that created broad exceptions for abortions that occur after viability. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade then states would be able to determine whether abortion is legal. At least a dozen states have "trigger laws" that would ban abortion outright. This story originally published March 24 and has been updated with the latest information. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 13th, 2022

Citing Racial Discrimination, Black Leaders Target Roe v Wade

Citing Racial Discrimination, Black Leaders Target Roe v Wade Authored by Alex Newman via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), A major lawsuit on behalf of unborn black babies making its way through the courts in Alabama has legal abortion in the crosshairs, alleging that the abortion industry is deliberately targeting black Americans and other minorities. A pro-life activist holds a model fetus during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 29, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) If successful, the attorneys and activists behind the case told The Epoch Times that it might ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court opinion that struck down state laws against abortion. Even if the case does not succeed in court, legal analysts and experts in the field say the implications for the court of public opinion are hard to overstate. The lawsuit was filed by pro-life leader Amie Beth Shaver, named Miss Alabama in 1994, on behalf of “Baby Q,” an African American baby in Alabama who was unborn when the case began. Baby Q represents all other similarly situated black babies in the womb across the state. According to the complaint, Baby Q and other members of the “class” are being unlawfully discriminated against and targeted for abortion by the industry. Abortion giant Planned Parenthood acknowledges its roots in the eugenics movement, but says it is working to rectify that legacy. “About 80 members of Baby Q’s class, which is African American babies in the womb, lose their lives in abortion every week in Alabama,” Sam McClure, the lead lawyer representing the babies, told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “Enough is enough. This has to stop.” Several leaders involved in the case told The Epoch Times that Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry more broadly have a long history of racism and support for eugenics, the highly controversial idea that humanity should be “improved” by weeding out allegedly inferior genes from the population. “This case really boils down to the question of whether states have the right to prohibit eugenics abortion,” added McClure. Many of the black leaders involved in the case were also behind the Equality Proclamation, signed in 2020 on the 158th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, to shine the spotlight on what they describe as the systematic targeting of black babies. Why Alabama? Conservative Alabama is the best jurisdiction in America to wage this fight, McClure said. Thanks to a measure approved by around 60 percent of voters in 2018, Alabama has one of the strongest protections for the unborn in its state Constitution. It says the policy of the state is “to recognize and support the importance of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.” The Alabama Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the personhood of unborn babies in other cases not directly involving abortion, McClure and other attorneys involved in the case told The Epoch Times. The Baby Q case also hinges on a state law known as the Human Life Protection Act, which makes committing an abortion a felony punishable by up to life in prison. Signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey in May of 2019, the measure bans all abortions in the state except to protect the health and life of the mother. That law is widely seen as one of the strongest in the nation prohibiting abortion. It is even stronger than the Mississippi statute currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case many legal experts on both sides of the debate believe could overturn or at least scale back Roe v. Wade. In October of 2019, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction against the Alabama law, arguing that it violates existing Supreme Court precedent. As a result, Ivey and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall have declined to enforce it, for now, as the U.S. Supreme Court once again takes up the issue of abortion. Legal filings and attorneys in the Baby Q case also point to the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects unenumerated rights, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment providing for equal protection under the law. Finally, plaintiffs in the case cite the U.S. Constitution’s Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states or the people all powers not specifically surrendered to the federal government, as authorizing or even requiring state action in defense of the right to life. Intervening in the case on behalf of Baby Q are almost 50 state lawmakers and a supermajority of the state Senate, as well as dozens of black leaders from across America alleging that the abortion industry is targeting people based on race. State GOP leaders are also active on the issue, with the executive committee calling on all Republican officials to use every tool at their disposal to stop abortion in Alabama, including shutting down clinics. The Objective The Baby Q case, originally filed in October of 2020, is aimed at forcing the government “to protect preborn African-American children from discrimination and to ensure their equal protection under the law,” according to court filings. “The abortion industry has systematically targeted the African American community for extermination by abortion, and this history is undisputed,” said attorney McClure, citing historical evidence and even recent statements. Over 20 million black babies have been aborted in America so far, and are three to five times more likely to be aborted than white babies, continued McClure. This sort of racial targeting is clearly prohibited under state and federal law, he added. “In New York City, more black babies are killed in abortion than are born alive,” he continued. “In Alabama, black Americans make up 27 percent of the population, and yet they make up more than 60 percent of the abortion cases. Nobody can argue that this is not deliberate.” The plaintiffs in the case are asking the court to order Gov. Ivey to enforce the Human Life Protection Act and protect unborn children in the state from abortion and discrimination based on their race. Eventually, the goal is to completely overturn Roe v. Wade and restore protections for the unborn that the landmark Supreme Court case undermined nearly 50 years ago. Because equal protection and prohibitions on racial discrimination are so firmly established in American jurisprudence, the activists and attorneys behind the case believe it could be a game changer in the abortion debate. The next major milestone will come on April 20, when the judge will hold a hearing on the issue after more than a year of no action on it. “Finally, on April 20th, these African American babies are going to get their day in court,” said McClure. The previous hearing, which took place on Zoom, dealt with whether the case should be public. The abortion industry is seeking to keep it behind closed doors, but the state judge expressed a willingness to having it in the open. Attorney Brent Helms, who is representing the legislators seeking to intervene in the case, explained part of the rationale in a phone interview with The Epoch Times. “If the judge denies this case, that offers us the opportunity to get to the Alabama Supreme Court,” he said. “When the legislature looks at this case, Alabama’s law is more strict and says that the unborn child is a person with constitutional rights,” Helms continued. “Those rights cannot be denied without due process and equal protection.” Helms added: “That means the child’s right to life would supersede or at least compete with the mother’s alleged right to privacy, as the right to life is an enumerated right, while the mother’s privacy rights to obtain an abortion were discovered in the penumbras as opposed to actually being written down.” Regardless of how the state circuit court judge rules, the losing side is expected to immediately appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court. The court is known as one of the nation’s more conservative state supreme courts. From there, it is practically certain that the losing side will appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Role of the US Supreme Court Numerous legal experts told The Epoch Times that the courts involved in the Alabama case may wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks before making any major decisions. However, the Mississippi statute only protects unborn babies after 15 weeks, while Alabama is seeking to protect them from the time of conception. The Baby Q case also deals with racial discrimination, while the Mississippi case does not. The plaintiffs and intervenors hope the apparent conflict between the Alabama State Supreme Court’s positions and the federal district court’s rulings will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of protecting the right to life of the unborn in Alabama and beyond. McClure, the lead attorney for Baby Q, said justices from the Supreme Court have been leaving “breadcrumbs” in their opinions regarding what elements they would like to see in a major abortion case. In his concurring opinion issued in the case of Box v. Planned Parenthood, for example, Justice Clarence Thomas raised the issue of racial targeting as an important component. “We think the type of case the U.S. Supreme Court wants to take on to return abortion issues back to the states involves eliminating the abortion industry’s history of racial targeting, a purely state law claim, and a reliance on the Ninth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” McClure said, noting that the Baby Q case had all of those. “Obviously, we care about all life in the womb, but this case in particular deals with the racial targeting of children of African descent and this is a key issue,” he added. The U.S. Supreme Court’s own 1973 ruling on abortion acknowledged that if the “suggestion of [a fetus’] personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [Fourteenth] amendment.” The people of Alabama, as well as many medical and scientific experts, have concluded that unborn children are indeed persons, attorneys and leaders involved in the case said. Thus, under the reasoning in Roe v. Wade, the high court must act. The hope is that, through the courts, the abortion industry can be prevented from targeting unborn persons based on race, and eventually, state governments can regain the authority to protect all unborn lives, McClure said. Racism in Planned Parenthood and Abortion Dozens of prominent black leaders from across America are involved in the case, arguing that Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry have been deliberately targeting the nation’s African American population and other minorities. It started at the very beginning with Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, black leaders told The Epoch Times. In her writings and her speeches to groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), Sanger openly advocated for eugenics to control the reproduction of populations she believed were less desirable. Indeed, in 1939, Sanger launched the infamous “Negro Project” to pay and train black leaders to promote birth control and other measures in the black community. Eventually, when Alan Guttmacher took the helm of Sanger’s organization, abortion became a major element of the campaign, Georgia gubernatorial candidate and Baby Q intervenor Catherine Davis told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. After Guttmacher and his allies were able to get the Supreme Court to strike down state laws protecting the unborn, “Planned Parenthood established their abortion clinics primarily in communities of color across America,” Davis said. Among other evidence, she pointed to an investigation using 2010 Census data showing that about 80 percent of the organization’s abortion clinics were located in minority neighborhoods. Planned Parenthood would claim that their clinics are located where there is “the greatest need,” said Davis. “But if you look at their marketing, they are regularly targeting black Americans,” she added. “On Halloween they even tweeted out that it was safer for a black woman to have an abortion than to carry the baby to term. This is outrageous.” According to Davis and the dozens of other black leaders involved in the case, this is racist population control and eugenics. “The closest example of this is what Hitler did in Nazi Germany,” she added. “Look at Planned Parenthood: this is exactly what Hitler was doing to Jews, but Sanger’s program was more successful because they take care to disguise their agenda as ‘helping’ women and protecting their ‘right’ to abortion.” Another prominent leader involved in the case, Martin Luther King’s niece and pro-life leader Alveda King, called this battle “the civil rights issue of our time.” “No racial group in America has ever been more left out of societal protection nor suffered more deliberate discrimination, dehumanization, agonizing dismemberment, and death legally imposed upon them than black children,” said King. “The Baby Q case is a gauntlet,” King told The Epoch Times in an email. “Pray that the hammer of justice will rule in favor of life.” The controversial racial component of abortion was also highlighted nationally in the 2009 documentary “Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America,” which argued that the targeting of black Americans in abortion constitutes a genocide. Planned Parenthood Confesses, Data Speaks Too In recent years, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained prominence, almost 20 Planned Parenthood affiliates with operations across 3 out of 4 states have issued public admissions of racism within the organization. Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, for instance, condemned Planned Parenthood founder Sanger’s “racist legacy” while announcing that her name would be removed from its building. “There is overwhelming evidence for Sanger’s deep belief in eugenic ideology,” the group said. “Removing her name is an important step toward representing who we are as an organization and who we serve.” Planned Parenthood of Pacific Southwest, meanwhile, acknowledged “white supremacy of the past and present,” including “our own organization” and the “implicit bias” that it said still exists within Planned Parenthood today. “Planned Parenthood has been complicit in upholding systemic racism,” the group’s Illinois affiliate said. Similar statements confessing to “present participation in white supremacy” and acknowledging that Sanger’s “racist ideals” have “shaped Planned Parenthood today” were issued by numerous other affiliates. And yet the massive disparities continue, advocates say. According to a legal filing by black leaders in the Baby Q case citing state health statistics, 63 percent of the 7,538 “unborn children killed by abortion providers in Alabama” in 2019 were black. This shows abortion providers “intentionally target African American children,” the black leaders said in the legal filing. And this “violence” based on race would never be tolerated in any other context, they argued. Where the Case Goes Now Later this month, a hearing on the case will be held in state court in Alabama to hear arguments from the various parties involved. In its response to the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood Southeast asked the court to dismiss the case based on lack of jurisdiction and Baby Q supporters’ alleged failure to identify a claim where the court would be able to provide relief. Neither the national Planned Parenthood office nor the Southeast office responded to requests for comment from The Epoch Times on the allegations of racism or the ongoing litigation. The governor’s office is taking the same position as the abortion industry, urging the court to dismiss Baby Q’s case and refuse to allow legislators behind the Human Life Protection Act to intervene. Gov. Ivey’s office did not respond to requests for comment on why the governor has declined to enforce the Human Life Protection Act or why she is asking the court to dismiss the case. Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office also did not respond by press time. Colonel John Eidsmoe, a prominent constitutional scholar in Alabama who has worked closely with multiple state Supreme Court justices, told The Epoch Times that he did not anticipate a ruling by the Alabama courts until after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its opinion in the Mississippi case. That ruling is expected by this summer. “The general feeling is that the Supreme Court will uphold the Mississippi law, but it is not clear yet whether it will overturn or simply modify Roe v. Wade,” added Eidsmoe, a professor of Constitutional Law at Oak Brook College of Law & Government Policy as well as senior counsel for the Alabama-based Foundation for Moral Law. Alabama’s Supreme Court, he said, would likely want to wait for a favorable decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Mississippi law before moving on this. Eidsmoe also believes that, with its current makeup, the U.S. Supreme Court would be likely to uphold Alabama’s law protecting the unborn as well. Potentially even more important than the legal issues is what this case could do in the court of public opinion, said Eidsmoe. If Americans broadly recognize the facts in the abortion controversy and especially the racial targeting, the political and cultural implications would be beyond profound. Multiple experts and leaders involved in the case told The Epoch Times that these may be the last days for Roe v. Wade, legal abortion, and racial targeting of minorities by the industry. The outcome of the Baby Q case may play a key role in that historic shift. Tyler Durden Wed, 04/06/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 6th, 2022

Smartmatic has already sued MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Now they"re going after his lawyers.

Smartmatic wants to get MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's lawyers sanctioned before defamation lawsuits over election conspiracy theories are even finished. Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, walks past a crowd of supporters during a rally for former President Donald Trump on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Florence, Az.AP Photo/Nathan Howard Mike Lindell alleged in court that Dominion and Smartmatic formed an illegal enterprise to rig the 2020 election. In addition to suing the MyPillow mogul, Smartmatic is trying to get him and his lawyers sanctioned. A Smartmatic lawyer said Lindell's claims were "akin to a Flat Earther demanding evidence that the planet is round." Of all the people who have lied about the 2020 presidential election, no one has fought harder than Mike Lindell.Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani have studiously defended themselves against defamation lawsuits from Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems. The MyPillow CEO, on the other hand, has become more worked up, livid at what he sees as nothing less than the theft of American democracy.Taking the offense, the MyPillow CEO has filed countersuits and refused to hand over discovery information to Dominion after a federal judge said the technology company's lawsuit could proceed. As part of one counterclaim, he alleged in court filings that Smartmatic and Dominion are both owned by Chinese nationals and that they colluded with a public relations firm to suppress his free speech and ruin him financially."This was the biggest crime family, probably bigger than the mafia crime family," Lindell told Insider in an interview. "They were part of the biggest crime in human history, period. That's where we're at."Smartmatic has denied the claims and repeatedly pointed out that it played a role in only one county's election administration in 2020. But the outlandish nature of the accusations pressed them to take another step: Asking the judge to sanction Lindell and his lawyers before the case is even over."There's no legal precedent for the claims that are being brought," Smartmatic's attorney J. Erik Connolly told Insider. "I understand that someone can throw a lot of spaghetti on the wall. But that doesn't provide you a factual or a legal predicate for a claim."Lindell's purpose in filing his lawsuit, Connolly wrote in court filings, was "to undermine confidence in the 2020 US election" — something he said should result in sanctions."His complaint does not raise a viable claim against Smartmatic because Mr. Lindell has none," lawyers for Smartmatic wrote in a February filing. "Instead, he is using this court as a platform and abusing its legitimacy to promote his narrative that the 2020 election was rigged. Forcing Smartmatic to defend against a case that has no proper purpose is sanctionable."Smartmatic asked US District Judge Carl J. Nichols, who's presiding over the case, to order Lindell and his lawyers to hand over any money they've made from their litigation. Jan Jacobowitz, a legal ethics advisor, said that Lindell's lawyers may have run afoul of Rule 11 in the federal rules of civil procedure, which requires attorneys to file only motions that have a basis in fact and law. While lawyers don't always have to think they have a slam-dunk case, Jacobowitz said, it's the duty of every lawyer to make sure their cases make sense."It doesn't matter how passionate someone is," Jacobowitz said. "If there's no support for what they want to do, then an attorney shouldn't be filing the suit."Mike Lindell dragged Smartmatic into Dominion's lawsuitThe knotty fight over whether the judge will sanction Lindell and his lawyers is tied up with a larger, more complicated lawsuit over whether he defamed Dominion.In early 2021, Dominion filed separate defamation lawsuits against Mike Lindell and MyPillow, Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell. All three conspiracy theorists falsely claimed, in one way or another, that Dominion and the rival election technology company Smartmatic rigged the 2020 presidential election results against then-President Donald Trump and in favor of now-President Joe Biden.Nichols, a federal judge in Washington, DC, where the cases were filed, combined them all into one docket. In August, he denied motions from Lindell, MyPillow, Giuliani, and Powell to dismiss the lawsuits. But Lindell and MyPillow are appealing that decision and have refused to hand over discovery information until that appeal is settled."The judge never looked at anything on there. They don't look at all the evidence, Lindell told Insider. "The judge made a terrible ruling against our first amendment rights of free speech. So did many other judges in this country."Founder and CEO of My Pillow, conservative political activist and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell (C) listens to former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a "Save America" rally at York Family Farms on August 21, 2021 in Cullman, Alabama.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesIn December, Lindell dragged Smartmatic into the mess.His answer to Dominion's lawsuit — which came months after Powell and Giuliani already filed their own — brought a RICO claim. He alleged that Dominion, Dominion's public relations firm Hamilton Place Strategies, and Smartmatic formed a de-facto illegal criminal organization designed to suppress "dissenting speech," a reference to his false claims about the election, through "lawfare."Separately, Lindell and Smartmatic had been tangling on two different fronts. In June, Lindell sued Smartmatic and Dominion in Minnesota, making similar claims about them trying to suppress his opinion (that case was transferred to DC, where Nichols took it over and consolidated it into Dominion's case as well). In January, Smartmatic filed a defamation lawsuit against Lindell, calling him "crazy like a fox" and alleging he purposefully stoked dangerous conspiracy theories "for the noble purpose of selling his pillows."All of this led to Smartmatic, on February 11, to decide that enough was enough.In addition to asking the judge to dismiss Lindell's counterclaims, Smartmatic's lawyers, led by Connolly, asked Nichols to sanction Lindell and his attorneys. They said in the filing Lindell has made it clear "both in the complaint and in his out-of-court statements" that the lawsuit was politically motivated."Mr. Lindell predicates his claims on allegations that: lack factual support; are implausible; have been disproven by credible, publicly available evidence; and have been rejected by other federal district courts," Smartmatic's lawyers wrote. "Any minimal inquiry into Mr. Lindell's allegations would have demonstrated that they lack evidentiary support and cannot possibly be proven in violation of [Rule 11]."A federal judge on Thursday appeared skeptical of arguments to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems over baseless 2020 election claims made by Trump allies Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Lindell.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP PhotoFor some lawsuits, Connolly told Insider, there's a reasonable difference of opinion for whether a judge should dismiss the case. But for a complaint that "lacks a good faith basis in law or fact," he said, seeking Rule 11 sanctions is a proper remedy.That includes Lindell's lawyers. While Lindell may be deluded about the 2020 election, his lawyers should know better, Smartmatic said."An 'empty-head' but 'pure-heart' is no justification for patently frivolous arguments or factual assertions," the lawyers wrote.It's up to the judge to decide who among Lindell's lawyers would be sanctioned. In the counterclaim against Smartmatic and ensuing court filings, Lindell has been represented by the attorneys Douglas A. Daniels, Heath A. Novosad, and Earl N. "Trey" Mayfield III.On Monday, after Insider reached out to the attorneys for comment, Daniels and Novosad told the judge they were withdrawing from the case. Andrew Parker, who first brought Lindell's lawsuit against Dominion, said he would take over their responsibilities.None of Lindell's attorneys responded to Insider's requests for comment."Akin to a Flat Earther demanding evidence that the planet is round"On February 25, Lindell fired back. In a response to Smartmatic's motion for sanctions, his lawyers said that all the reasons Americans have to believe the 2020 election was secure — the numerous recounts, the dozens of judicial decisions, the statement from CISA about it being "the most secure in American history," Trump's attorney general William Barr saying fraud claims were nonsense — were not the whole story.No state has produced evidence that the 2020 election results were fraudulent, and an Arizona audit that Lindell personally backed found that Biden won the state by a bigger margin than previously reported. But Lindell's filing pointed out that some state legislatures are still investigating the 2020 election and "have even begun introducing legislation to recall their electors."When Insider quoted that part of the filing in an interview with Lindell, he said he wasn't certain what his lawyers were talking about."That's all lawyer 'blah, blah, blah' that's written down there. I don't know what they all wrote there," he said. "You just said that to me. A hundred percent my lawyers are right. Because the legislature, they're all seeing this now."Mike Lindell (L), founder of My Pillow Inc., points to the crowd during a rally for President Donald Trump at the Bemidji Regional Airport on September 18, 2020 in Bemidji, Minnesota.Stephen Maturen/Getty ImagesLindell pointed to recent events in Wisconsin to back his claims. A special counsel hired by Republicans in the state legislature suggested in a report that Wisconsin lawmakers should "de-certify" the 2020 election results and abolish the state's election commission. State representative Timothy Ramthun — who Lindell is backing in the state's gubernatorial election — introduced a bill that would adopt those stances into law, Lindell said.He alleged that evidence of election machine tampering and that "Dominion deleted the election and we caught it" is available on his Frank Speech website. It's all there if anyone wants to do their own research, he claimed.Smartmatic was not amused by Lindell's lawyers continuing to cast doubt on the 2020 election results. Slinging back in a March 4 filing, they argued that conjecture could not replace evidence."His question is akin to a Flat Earther demanding evidence that the planet is round," Connolly wrote. "Joe Biden was sworn in as the President of the United States over a year ago. All legal challenges to the outcome of the 2020 election failed."Quoting "a math teacher at a charter school for kindergarteners through 12th graders" in their court filings as expert evidence was not a proper use of the court's time, Smartmatic's lawyers said."An expert cannot create a fact where no fact exists," Connolly told Insider. "And so Mr. Lindell's lawsuit is making a factual allegation regarding collusion between Smartmatic and Dominion, as just a factual matter. There is no basis for that, and an expert can't create a factual basis for that."A decision to sanction Lindell's lawyers could come soonIt was no excuse, Connolly argued, that a lot of people think the 2020 election was fraudulent. Lindell's lawyers should know better, he wrote."This case is not about a negligent litigant or counsel who failed to turn over the right stone or overlooked a critical piece of information," he wrote. "Rather, Mr. Lindell and his counsel know what lies under the stone and do not care."It's this conviction — that Lindell and his lawyers knew better — that drove Smartmatic to ask for sanctions so quickly. Compare it to the case of Sidney Powell who filed a nonsense lawsuit trying to overturn Biden's election win in Michigan. It was only after the judge ruled against Powell that lawyers for the City of Detroit asked for her to be sanctioned. The judge ultimately ordered Powell and other lawyers who worked on the case to pay $175,000 in legal fees.MyPillow Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell walks through the Hyatt Regency lobby to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 28, 2021.REUTERS/Octavio JonesBut in Lindell's case, there was already a vast corpus of evidence that he was peddling junk. According to Jacobowitz, Rule 11 requires attorneys to file motions for sanctions "upon your conclusion that someone has filed a frivolous complaint that violates Rule 11." "They didn't necessarily need discovery to make their argument because of all the other federal lawsuits, and all the publications, everything they're using to fight in there," she said. "They erred on the side of getting right out of the gate and getting the motion filed."Nichols, the presiding judge, can decide whether to sanction Lindell and his lawyers whenever he wants, Jacobowitz said. The litigation with Dominion could take years, and he could issue sanctions at the very end of it.More likely, though, he will make a decision at the same time he rules on Smartmatic's motion to dismiss Lindell's claims. If the judge decides that Lindell's lawyers' claims are junk, he may issue sanctions, or hold a hearing to issue sanctions, at the same time. That could come as soon as April.Lindell, or his part, believes his claims against Smartmatic will stand and that his countersuit against the "corrupt, crime-ridden machine companies" claiming $1.6 billion in damages will be victorious."I have absolutely zero worry because they did the crimes that I have said they have done," he told Insider. "They did the crimes and they're all gonna end up in prison."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 30th, 2022