The following post was contributed by Jaemin Chang.
We have come a long way!
I had the pleasure of attending the dedication of former SF Mayor and State Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr.’s archive to San Francisco State University Library on April 4, 2016. One of his manila folders was labeled “Labor/Employment,” and an article from 1974 entitled “California Upheld on Denial of Disability Pay for Pregnancy” sat on the top.
This article, written by Linda Mathews, discussed the U.S. Supreme Court case, Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U.S. 484 (1974). U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a law professor at Columbia at the time) was quoted as saying, “This decision has terrible implications” for working women, especially low income earners.
The Geduldig case challenged California’s disability insurance system which denied temporary disability pay to women with normal pregnancies. It is difficult to imagine that our State championed denial of coverage to pregnant women, but that was the convention of our thinking back in 1974.
Fast forward to the present. California has some of the most expansive laws covering pregnancy disability and paid family leaves. San Francisco being at the forefront passed an ordinance on April 5, 2016, requiring employers to pay up to 6 weeks of fully paid time off for new parents. California is already one of the few states that offer paid parental leave, where workers receive 55% of their pay from the state’s Worker’s Compensation insurance program. Under the new ordinance, San Francisco employers are required to fund the remaining 45% of the pay for up to six weeks.
This new law will take effect January 2017: employers with 50 employees or more must comply by January 1, 2017, and employers with 20 or more employees must comply by July 1, 2017.