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Advancing the rights of working families.

Latest News from ABB

A Decade of Advancing The Rights of Working Families


  • A Better Balance (ABB) is founded.
  • San Francisco voters pass first paid sick days law in the country.


  • ABB convenes national experts for work/family summit and releases report on work/family dilemma and solutions for all New Yorkers.


  • New Jersey becomes second state to enact paid family leave.
  • Washington, D.C. enacts paid sick days law, and Milwaukee voters approve paid sick days proposal drafted by ABB.


  • ABB drafts New York City Earned Sick Time Act and rallies with supporters as it is introduced at the City Council for the first time.
  • ABB assists in legal defense of Milwaukee paid sick days law.
  • ABB launches Families @ Work Legal Clinic in partnership with Outten & Golden, to assist low-income New Yorkers with workplace problems related to pregnancy and caregiving.


  • ABB receives inaugural Outten & Golden Public Interest Award, in recognition and support of our work advancing the rights of workers.
  • New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights passes with support from ABB, which testified and advocated on behalf of the bill.
  • ABB helps to convene summit on work/family solutions for New England and publishes summit report.


  • ABB provides legal support to successful campaign for paid sick days in Seattle, WA, making it the third city in the country to enact paid sick days.
  • Milwaukee paid sick days challenge is won with ABB's legal help, although a statewide preemption law is passed to overrule the Wisconsin courts and Milwaukee's voters.
  • ABB releases report based on original data to examine the work-family challenges facing fathers.
  • ABB files amicus brief in California Court of Appeals supporting state kincare law, which is ultimately upheld.


  • Dina Bakst's Jan. 30 op-ed in the New York Times launches national movement to pass pregnancy accommodation laws, and spurs introduction of the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which ABB helped to draft.
  • Long Beach, California, passes Paid Sick Days for hotel workers.
  • ABB and coalition partners re-launch campaign for paid sick days in NYC.
  • ABB collects more than 11,000 signatures for paid family leave in New York and delivers stories from constituents to Albany legislators, urging action.


  • ABB is one of three organizations at the table to negotiate the NYC Earned Sick Time Act. The City Council overwhelmingly passes the bill and overrides the Mayor's veto to provide an entitlement to paid sick time for 3.4 million working New Yorkers.
  • ABB publishes Babygate, the first-of-its-kind guide for expecting and new parents about their workplace rights, to overwhelmingly positive reviews.
  • ABB's advocacy on pregnancy accommodations, family status discrimination, and equal pay featured in New York Women's Equality Agenda.
  • ABB helps to draft Rhode Island paid family leave bill, making it the third state in the country to guarantee paid time off for family care.
  • ABB advises San Francisco in passage of law enabling caregivers to request flexible schedules without retaliation.
  • ABB issues comprehensive reports on LGBT rights and paid leave laws, entitled Time for a Change, and It Shouldn't be a Heavy Lift, with the National Women's Law Center, on fair treatment for pregnant workers.
  • ABB spearheads successful campaign to make New York City the first to enact fairness for pregnant workers
  • With critical help from ABB, Portland, OR, Jersey City, NJ, and SeaTac, WA pass paid sick days laws


  • ABB plays an integral role in strengthening and expanding NYC's paid sick time law
  • California, Massachusetts, San Diego and Oakland, CA and seven cities in New Jersey enact paid sick time laws, using ABB's model. ABB provides critical legal support in the Massachusetts ballot initiative that passes overwhelmingly, making it the third state to enact a paid sick time law.
  • ABB opens southern office in Nashville, TN
  • Under pressure from ABB and partners, Walmart upgrades policy for pregnant workers.
  • Feminist Press publishes second edition of Babygate, and ABB launches website version to break down the pregnancy and parenting laws in an easy-to-use, state-by-state, searchable format.
  • ABB co-authors amicus brief in the Supreme Court supporting former UPS worker Peggy Young in her fight for pregnancy accommodations.
  • ABB helps five states and four cities enact pregnant worker fairness laws
  • ABB featured in the New York Times for helping low-wage women get back to work using the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
  • ABB launches LGBTQ Work-Family Project with Family Values @ Work.
  • ABB releases report on the Pregnancy Penalty, which is featured on MSNBC.
  • ABB works with the National Women's Law Center and other partners to draft the “Schedules that Work Act,” to address abusive scheduling practices. The bill is introduced in Congress with a thank you to ABB.


  • ABB marks first anniversary of NYC Earned Sick Time Act, and celebrates distributing more than 10,000 copies of educational materials and fielding more than 175 calls from New Yorkers seeking information and help enforcing their rights.
  • ABB co-founders, Dina Bakst and Sherry Leiwant, awarded the 16th Annual Edith Spivak Award by the New York County Lawyer's Association, for their efforts to defend and protect the rights of thousands of women.
  • ABB releases Investing in our Families, a report on the case for paid family leave.
  • With 24/7 support from ABB, Oregon becomes fourth state to enact paid sick days law. Five more cities, including Philadelphia, and one county, also join the movement using ABB's model.
  • Nebraska, North Dakota and Rhode Island enact pregnant worker fairness laws.
  • Key measures pushed by ABB to advance women's equality pass in NY.
  • ABB helps draft laws introduced in states and cities around the country to address problems of workers' lack of control over their schedules.

Our Legislative Efforts


Between May 2014 and May 2015 A Better Balance worked on these legislative issues around the country.

state-az Arizona Paid Sick
state-ca California Paid Sick, Scheduling, Implementation
state-co Colorado Paid Family Leave
Connecticut Paid Family Leave, Paid Sick, Scheduling
state-dc District of Columbia Paid family Leave, Pregnant Workers Fairness
Florida Florida Paid Sick
state-ga Georgia Kin Care
state-hi Hawaii Paid Family Leave, Paid Sick
Illinois Paid Sick, Pregnant Workers Fairness, Implementation
state-ky Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness


Paid Sick, Scheduling
state-ma Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness, Paid Family Leave, Paid Sick, Scheduling, Implementation


Michigan Paid Sick
state-mn Minnesota Paid Sick, Scheduling, Paid Family Leave
Nebraska Paid Sick, Pregnant workers Fairness
New Hampshire Breastfeeding
state-nj New Jersey Paid Sick, Implementation
New Mexico Paid Family Leave
New York Paid Family Leave, Scheduling, Caregiver Discrimination, Equal Pay, Right to Request, Implementation
Oregon Paid Sick, Scheduling, Implementation
Pennsylvania Paid Sick
Rhode Island Paid Sick, Paid Family Leave, Implementation
Tennessee Paid Family Leave, Pregnant Workers Fairness
Texas Pregnant Workers Fairness
Vermont Paid Sick
Washington Implementation
West Virginia Paid Sick
Wisconsin Paid Family Leave

Fairness for Pregnant Workers in NY State

For immediate release:

 Tuesday May 5, 2015


For more information:

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(212) 430-5982


Pregnancy Accommodations Become Law in New York—Empire State Joins Growing Movement to Guarantee Fairness for Pregnant Workers


Albany, N.Y.—With a unanimous vote, the New York State Assembly today passed legislation to guarantee pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The legislation was part of Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda and he is expected to sign the bill into law later this month, making New York the latest in a string of states to enact laws protecting the rights of pregnant workers.

Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance, who has been pushing for this bill since 2012, said: “Now thousands of New York women will be able to quickly get the modest accommodations they need to stay healthy and employed, providing crucial support to their families who increasingly rely on mothers as breadwinners.”

The new law will help women who, like Bakst’s client Betzaida Cruz Cardona, are pushed out of work, and often into financial dire straits, when they ask for a minor adjustment to their work duties or hours in order to protect their health and that of their pregnancy. 

New York becomes the ninth state since 2013 to guarantee pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations, filling a gap in existing law that left many pregnant women and new mothers out of a job when they needed it most to support their families.  Many of these bills, including New York’s, garnered widespread bipartisan support, indicating rare consensus across the political spectrum.

Congress is expected to take up the issue soon with reintroduction of the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.  Since the bill was last introduced in 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Young v. UPS, that employers may not fail to accommodate pregnant workers while accommodating other non-pregnant workers when doing so imposes a significant burden on pregnant women and the employer lacks a strong non-discriminatory reason to impose the burden.

While the Court’s ruling was a win for Peggy Young, it left a murky legal landscape for most pregnant workers seeking accommodations.  Laws like the one passed today in New York clarify the legal standard and set the stage for Congressional action.



Leave Quiz


Coming in Summer 2014... Babygate, a book that tells you what you really need to know about pregnancy and parenting in the American workplace.

How well do you know your rights? Take our Pop Quiz about Leave to find out

True or False
  1. In 2008, 16 percent of employees were offered six-weeks of fully paid maternity leaves, up from just 10 percent a decade ago.
  2. Depending on which state you live in, you can get about $1,000 a week in benefits while on leave—or nothing.
  3. About 60 percent of U.S. workers are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  4. Employers covered by the FMLA are not required to tell you about your options. It is your responsibility to know your rights.
  5. In businesses that are covered by the FMLA, every full-time employee meeting the requirements is entitled to his or her job back regardless of title or salary.
  6. If you take FMLA leave, but ultimately decide to stay home with your baby and not return to your position, you may have to refund your employer the cost of your medical benefits.
  7. A same-sex partner cannot take FMLA leave for a new baby even if the couple is legally married because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
  8. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws that mirror the FMLA or expand on its protections.
Answer Key:
  1. False. The 16 percent figure is actually down from 27 percent, according to the Families and Work Institute.
  2. True. Location, location, location. Benefits vary by state.
  3. True. However, 78 percent of workers who need leave don’t take it because they can’t afford to, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families
  4. False. They have to post about the law conspicuously and put it in any employee handbooks or otherwise distribute it to any new employees.
  5. False. If you are a “key employee,” defined as the top 10 percent of employees based on salary, you are not guaranteed your job back after taking FMLA leave. A CEO can be let go because she takes maternity leave under the FMLA. 
  6. True. Even if you do return to work, but then decide to quitwithin thirty days, your employer can reclaim from you all the money it spent on your health insurance premiums while you were out on leave.
  7. False. A LGBT partner can take FMLA leave to care for a newborn or seriously ill child even if she/he is not legally or biologically related to the child. The Department of Labor recently clarified that an LGBT parent who is raising a child is eligible to take FMLA leave to bond with or care for that child. So as long as the partner plays the role of a parent to the child, she/he can take FMLA leave to care for him or her.
  8. False. Just 10 states and DC provide laws for unpaid time off.

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Learn more about the book!

Back to Work Quiz

Coming in May... Babygate, a new book that tells you what you really need to know about pregnancy and parenting in the American workplace.

Transitioning Back to Work

True or False
  1. In 1971, The US Congress passed a bill to establish a national day care system in the United States.
  2. Today, nearly four in ten moms are the primary breadwinnerfor their families.
  3. Employers can make all nursing employees pump their breast milk in the bathroom.
  4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 5 and 10 percent of mothers report postpartum depression symptoms.
  5. About 70 percent of workers who have sick time cannot use it to care for their children when they are ill.
  6. At every income level, childcare costs are among the top seven expenses for families.
  7. Research shows that offering employees flexible work arrangements increases productivity and shareholder returns.
Answer Key
  1. True. President Nixon vetoed it.
  2. True. Even more are co-breadwinners.
  3. False. If the employee is covered by the Federal Labor Standards Act then she is entitled to pump in a private space other than the bathroom.
  4. False. It’s actually more than that: Between 10 and 25 percent of mothers report postpartum depression symptoms.
  5. Unfortunately this is true.
  6. False. Childcare costs rank among the top three—along with housing and food.
  7. True!

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Learn more about the book!


United States vs The World Quiz

Coming in Summer 2014... Babygate, a book that tells you what you really need to know about pregnancy and parenting in the American workplace.

The United States v. The World

1. In which country are a set of parents entitled to 480 days of paid leave per child at 80 percent of their salaries?
  1. Ireland
  2. France
  3. Sweden
  4. The United States
2. Which of these countries doesn’t guarantee some leave with pay to women in connection with childbirth?
  1. Afghanistan, which has a 26 percent literacy rate and 9 million people living on less than one dollar a day,
  2. Djibouti, an African nation plagued by civil war and drought that is home to many nomadic herders,
  3. The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest nations in the world, or 
  4. The United States.
3. How may of the worlds’ countries offer paternity leave or the right to paid parental leave for fathers?
  1. 20
  2. 57
  3. 74
  4. None
4. Which country offers new moms 26 days of paid leave at 100 percent of their salary?
  1. Kazakhstan
  2. Papua New Guinea
  3. Lesotho
  4. Swaziland
5. Of 196 countries in the world, how many guarantee a minimum number of paid sick days?
  1. 43
  2. 89
  3. 163
  4. None
6. Which country was named the best country for work-life balance?
  1. Denmark
  2. Sweden
  3. France
  4. United States
7. In which country do people work the fewest hours?
  1. Belgium
  2. Unites States
  3. Netherlands
  4. Spain
Answer Key:
  1. C. And they can take time off of work for long continuous periods, for single days or parts of days, until the child reaches eight years.
  2. D. The Unites States.
  3. C. Of the 178 countries offering some sort of paid maternity leave, 74 offer a form of paid leave to Dads too. The US isn’t one of them.
  4. A. The other three join the US as the only countries that offer no paid leave.
  5. B. Many provide a week or more per year for personal health needs. The US is not among them.
  6. A. With the lowest child-poverty rate among developed nations, Denmark was ranked number one by the OECD.
  7. B. People in the Netherlands work 1,378 hours a year, far below the OECD average of 1,739 hours a year.

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Learn more about the book!


City Councilmembers Introduce Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Pregnant_Worker City Councilmembers Introduce Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. City Councilmembers Vacca, Palma, Rose, & Lander introduced the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act on November 27, 2012, a bill that will protect pregnant workers in all five boroughs who need a simple modification to stay healthy and on the job. Read our fact sheet and press release.

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