"A Day Without a Woman," the newest outstanding effort by the organizers of January's massive Women's March on Washington and all across America, is set for Wednesday, March 8. The protest coincides with International Women's Day, a global event that traces its origins to 1909 and whose theme this year is "Be Bold for Change."
On Wednesday, women and men across America will participate in A Day Without A Woman — “a movement that seeks to show the vital role women play in both the domestic and global economy. It also aims to bring attention to the lower wages, sexual harassment, discrimination, and job insecurity that women often face.”
And of course it’s a loud and “yuuuuge” message to the sitting President.
We’re all feminists here, and we totally support the “strike.”
However, Mark Gabel, who founded his own employment law firm (Gabel Law Firm, P.C.) in the Bay Area, has some caveats about what may happen if people don’t turn up for work on Wednesday. Gabel suggests his comments are informational only and aren’t legal advice.
Off the top Gabel asks, “Could taking part in A Day Without a Woman activities hurt women at work? We're feminists here, and we support speaking out, but we also want women to know what may happen when they do.”
Being an employment law consultant, Gabel suggests that if the actions of women (or men) involve breaking their employer's general rules — for example, claiming they're home sick when they're not (and then showing up on social media at a political or social event that day), or wearing all red when they're required to wear a black uniform — then, yes, they can get in trouble for those things on any day, including March 8.
Gabel offers some specifics:
As always, think carefully about where you work and for whom you work for before making any overtly, or even implicitly, political statements at work. Just because you have a right to do something doesn't mean that it won't impact your job or career. If you think your specific employer may not appreciate your activities, then you have to be willing to risk the consequences if you speak out anyway.
Most employers will allow wearing red unless the workplace has a uniform requirement or dress code that specifically says she can't. But if, for example, you're supposed to wear neutral-colored scrubs every day, then you'll need to follow that rule to avoid problems. Know and follow your dress code.
Taking the day off shouldn't cause trouble for most women--IF they follow their employer's rules for doing it. If her supervisor approves it as a vacation day, fine. If she doesn't need her supervisor's approval to take a day off, then it's her choice. If she's actually sick and uses her sick leave, fine. But if she's supposed to get approval for a day off and she doesn't, or if she calls in sick when she's not and gets caught, then she may still get in trouble for that.
Gabel also says that if a woman is part of a union, and the union contract has a no-strike clause, then an unscheduled absence for political reasons could be an unlawful strike or work slowdown, which could get her into trouble. Additionally, getting into a big argument with a co-worker can always get you in trouble. The fact that it's about politics probably won't change that.
And he adds:
There are a variety of laws that could make it unlawful for your employer to discipline you for participating in a Day Without Women. For example, in California, unless you work for the government, your employer can't stop you from political activity outside of work, and federal labor law protects employees' rights to discuss their own rights at work with each other. But of course, laws against wrongful termination don't stop people from getting fired, they just give them the right to file legal claims if it happens.
Speaking up against injustices and for freedom has its price. But, Be Bold for Change!