Labor

Proposed Bill Would Prevent Your Employer From Accessing Your Birth Control Schedule

Employers are using third-party companies to mine data about their workers' personal health issues.

Photo Credit: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene is proposing legislation that would prevent companies from accessing their employees' birth control details.

The Birth Control Privacy Act (H.R. 5746), which was introduced with over 40 cosponsors, takes aim at workplace wellness programs that might access private information regarding women's contraception decisions. The legislation would prohibit such programs from sharing personally identifiable information with employers about their workers' birth-control use.

A Wall Street Journal exposé from February 2016 detailed how employers are using third-party companies to mine data about their workers' personal health. The piece, which was written by Rachel Emma Silverman, explains how the firm Castlight Healthcare Inc. accesses information about employees' birth-control choices:

"To determine which employees might soon get pregnant, Castlight recently launched a new product that scans insurance claims to find women who have stopped filling birth-control prescriptions, as well as women who have made fertility-related searches on Castlight’s health app.

A press release, put out in conjunction with the proposal, quotes Rep. DelBene on the issue:

“If a woman stops filling her prescription for birth control, her boss shouldn’t be the first to know. A woman’s decisions about contraception and family planning are nobody’s business but her own. If employers can identify when a woman decides to stop using contraception that can mean lost jobs, missed opportunities for advancement and diminished financial stability. Congress should put safeguards in place to ensure women’s privacy is protected in workplace wellness programs.”

DeBene's bill is endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Women’s Law Center and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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Michael Arria covers labor and social movements. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelarria