Gretchen Harders, Member of the Firm in the Employee Benefits practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in the American Bar Association’s Perspectives publication, in Dobbs’ Impact on Employers, Law Firms, Women Lawyers, and Future Lawyers,” by Terri Williams.

Following is an excerpt:

In the bombshell ruling for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Docket no. 19-1392), SCOTUS, by a 6-3 vote, reversed half a century of judicial precedent holding that the right to an abortion was implied in the right to privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment.

So, what does this ruling mean for employers in general, law firms in particular, and, more precisely, women at law firms and women thinking about becoming lawyers?

What Dobbs Means for Employers …

At issue is how employers can comply with state and federal laws and how they affect employee populations and employee-sponsored group health plans that cover abortions. “Under the Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act, group health plans are not required by law to cover elective abortions, but are required to cover medical conditions that may result from an abortion, and many employer-sponsored group health plans are designed to provide coverage for elective abortions,” says New York, NY–based Gretchen Harders, the Epstein Becker Green attorney who led the firmwide Dobbs initiative relating to benefits. …

How Companies (Particularly Law Firms) Are Responding

Dobbs has forced companies to take a position—either supporting the decision or working to assist women seeking abortions. And like other employers, the actions and reactions among law firms vary. …

The response varies at other employers (including law firms), however. For example, according to Harders, the most common approach has been to offer travel reimbursement for abortions as a qualified medical expense under the company group health plan. “Group health plan travel benefits are not new, and have typically been offered to employees and their covered dependents for certain limited services, such as transplant services, specialized cancer treatments, or centers of excellence,” she says.

These travel benefits are not without controversy and issues of fairness, however, that question the very legality of such policies. “Some group health plan travel benefits have been limited to abortion or certain reproductive services, while others have been extended to apply to all covered services, including mental health services,” says Harders. “There has been some indication the EEOC has been issuing Commissioner’s charges against employers that offer reimbursement of travel expenses in connection with abortions, alleging that such actions constitute unlawful discrimination based on pregnancy and/or disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”

More Like This

Jump to Page

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.