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Workers’ rights bills in the US

Take action in your state

Workers deserve more rights.

We live in a culture where corporations simply have too much power. Currently, they can bully and abuse workers in any one of these forms:

  • Ask us to sign away our rights
  • Push us out of our jobs for any reason or no reason
  • Work while grieving a loved one
  • Check our credit in the hiring process
  • Fail to conduct investigations for reports of sexual harassment
  • Discriminate against those suffering from domestic violence
  • Retaliate against injured workers
  • Make it difficult for us to leave toxic workplaces when our healthcare is tied to our jobs
  • Silence us when we’ve been abused
  • Pay some workers below minimum wage or an otherwise non-livable wage
  • Not grant sufficient sick leave amid COVID-19
  • Conduct abusive scheduling practices
  • Avoid accountability for discrimination through wages and promotions
  • Steal wages
  • Block public employees from striking
  • Ask about our desired salary ranges, which has a discriminatory impact
  • Verbally abuse and sabotage workers with zero accountability

We can change this toxic culture for workers through by passing these bills into law. Call and ask your state legislators to sign onto the bill. Let whoever answers the phone know what bill(s) you support upfront. Tell whoever answers the phone “Hi! My name is (YOUR NAME). I live in (NAME OF YOUR TOWN). I’m calling to ask (NAME OF THE LEGISLATOR) to sign onto (BILL NUMBER — SEE THE LIST BELOW). regarding (TOPIC).” They may ask you your address.

Abusive waivers

In their next job search, workers might encounter employers asking them to waive their rights to basic protections. The abusive waivers bill would void provisions in contracts waiving rights or remedies relating to claims of discrimination, nonpayment of wages or benefits, retaliation, or harassment in employment. California, Maryland, New York, Vermont, and Washington have already banned these waivers.
Massachusetts: S1164/H1984 | Take action »

At-will employment
Employees are at the will of their employers aside from difficult-to-prove discrimination. Once employers push these workers out, workers have no rights. The at-will employment bill prohibiting constructive discharge and wrongful termination would address this rampant issue. Montana is the only state to ban at-will employment.
Massachusetts: H2049 | Take action »
 
Bereavement leave
Workers deserve time off to properly grieve a loved one without worrying about losing their jobs. Bereavement leave bills would give workers time off to address the death.
Massachusetts: S1156/H1976 | Take action »
 
Credit reports

Employers should not use credit reports or ask candidates to disclose their credit worthiness, standing, or capacity as criteria for employment.
Massachusetts: S1154/H2019 | Take action »

Discrimination against interns, volunteers, and independent contractors
Unpaid workers deserve as much dignity and respect as paid workers. This bill would expand discrimination protections to include interns, volunteers, and independent contractors.
Massachusetts: S1089 | Take action »

Domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence and family members of them sometimes experience discharge or others forms of discrimination at work or in the hiring process. But they deserve reasonable accommodations at work rather than forced to take leave if the accommodations won’t impose undue hardships on employers.
Massachusetts: S1173/H2018 | Take action »

Independent investigations for sexual harassment
To expand workers’ rights, we need a state legislature in which leadership celebrates diverse voices (women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community) rather than dictates and silences those harassed. The Equality and Respect in the Workplace bill would create an independent commission to investigate allegations of harassment and prohibit retaliation.
Massachusetts: S2102 | Take action »

Injured workers
We need stronger anti-retaliation law. This bill provides for an administrative complaint and investigation mechanism for enforcement and otherwise addresses employer misconduct that prevents workers from receiving timely medical care and benefits.
Massachusetts: S1187/H2032 | Take action »
 
Medicare for all

Guaranteed equitable health care access for all through a single payer health care financing system will ensure healthcare without regard to financial or employment status, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, previous health problems, or geographic location. This safety net will make it easier for workers to leave toxic workplaces. The act will provide access to healthcare services that are continuous, without the current need for repeated re-enrollments or changes when employers choose new plans and residents change jobs. Coverage shall be comprehensive and affordable, with no co-insurance, co-payments, or deductibles.
Massachusetts: S766/H1267 | Take action »

Minimum wage
Workers shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs to pay for basic living expenses. This bill would raise the minimum wage over several years to $15 per hour.
Rhode Island: S1AA/H5130 | Take action »

Non-disclosure agreements
When employers use settlements with their presumed guilt and/or to save money, they often add gag clauses to protect their reputations. Yet those gag clauses silence targets and embolden serial abusers. The Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) bill would ban NDAs, protections that 12 other states already have.
Massachusetts: S2047 | Take action »
Rhode Island: S189/H5853 | Take action »
 
One fair wage for tipped employees

Our tipped workers (restaurant workers, drivers, and grocery pickers and deliverers) don’t make enough money to qualify for unemployment insurance in ways that non-tipped workers do. The One Fair Wage bill phases out the discriminatory subminimum wage for tipped workers that disproportionately affected women, making it gradually match the regular minimum wage.
Massachusetts: S1213 | Take action »

Overtime pay
We all do better when the underrepresented and vulnerable are protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect. As one of the most affluent states in the country, we have the resources to provide a high quality of life for all, as long as we have the political will. Support the Overtime Pay bill to update Massachusetts’ state overtime law to restore overtime pay protections to low and moderate income workers when they work more than 40 hours a week – and protect Massachusetts workers against the roll-back of overtime protections by the Trump Administration.
Massachusetts: S1225/H1960 | Take action »

Paid leave for municipal workers

We all do better when the underrepresented and vulnerable are protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect. As one of the most affluent states in the country, we have the resources to provide a high quality of life for all, as long as we have the political will. Support the Paid Leave for Municipal Workers bill to extend the 2018 paid family and medical leave law to cover municipal employees.
Massachusetts: S1160/H2044 | Take action »

Pay disclosure
When workers disclose their pay history, employers can continue past discriminatory practices. This bill would ban employers from asking about pay history so workers in certain demographics can make salaries equitable to workers in more privileged demographics.
Rhode Island: H5584 | Take action »

Pay equity
This bill would require employers to assess and correct pay disparities based on race, sex, and other characteristics.
Rhode Island: S270/H5261 | Take action »

Right to strike for public employees

Withholding labor is a fundamental human right. Strikes and the threat of them are a part of the collective bargaining process, especially for teachers, police, and firefighters. This bill calls for a repeal of a state law that bans public sector workers from going on strike.
Massachusetts: S1245/H1946 | Take action »

Safety violation disclosures
For procurement contracts estimated at $50,000+, offerors must represent whether there has been any Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation, notice, decision, or civil judgment rendered against the company.
Massachusetts: S1190/H1966 | Take action »

Scheduling
Hourly workers deserve respect for their time and their ability to pay basic living expenses. The Fair Scheduling/Fair Workweek bill would provide workers the right to 14 days advance notice of hours, request specific hours without retaliation from the employer, rest for 11 hours between shifts, the offering of additional available hours before an employer can hire a new employee to fill them, and collect unemployment benefits when an employer’s failure to comply with Fair Scheduling practices is the worker’s reason for leaving a job.
Massachusetts: S1236/H1974 | Take action »
 
Wage data reporting
Public reporting of the gender and racial makeup of workforces and de-identified wage and salary data available by protected category is crucial for employer accountability for bias. If the data were made public, it would allow potential plaintiffs and attorneys an opportunity to assess the likelihood that illegal discrimination plays a role in the reward structures of employers. While the data may reveal equity, in many cases it could reveal disparities that employers could voluntarily remedy or allow workers to file suit. California has already passed the Fair Pay Act that protects the rights of workers to ask about the compensation of coworkers in similar jobs.
Massachusetts: S1196/H2020 | Take action »
 
Wage theft

This bill would hold lead contractors accountable for the wage theft violations of their subcontractors as long as there is a significant connection to their business activities or operations. It would also protect workers from wage theft violations such as failure to make wage payments, failure to abide by minimum wage, prevailing wage and overtime laws, and independent contractor misclassification and strengthen workers’ protection against retaliation. Ultimately, it would promote fair competition by ensuring that all businesses, including lead contractors, play by the rules and give their workers an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.
Massachusetts: S1179/H1959 | Take action »
Rhode Island: S195 | Take action »

Wage transparency
Massachusetts lawmakers made it illegal to ask about salary history, understanding the discriminatory impact of the question with accumulative differences among demographics. But employers can still ask for desired salary ranges, having the same effect. Instead, this bill calls for employer providing the pay scale for a particular employment position, which also benefits employers.
Massachusetts: S1208/H1950 | Take action »

Workplace abuse, the Dignity At Work Act
Workplace bullying is a severe and pervasive phenomenon in the US involving a violation of the basic human right to dignity. Bullying tactics include false accusations, exclusion, withholding necessary resources, sabotage, verbal abuse, put-downs, and unreasonable demands — resulting in a host of stress-related symptoms including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicide ideation. This bill would hold employers accountable for abusive conduct.
Massachusetts: S1185/H3843 | Take action »
Rhode Island: S196/H6532 | Take action »


Want to add your state to the list? Email info@dignityatworkact.org with a list of topics and bill numbers in your state, and we’ll add them.

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