Disney, Other Cos. Pledge To Cover Workers' Abortion Travel

Law360 (June 24, 2022, 8:01 PM EDT) -- Dozens of prominent companies, including Disney, Meta Platforms Inc. and Deutsche Bank, responded to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday overruling Roe v. Wade by saying they will cover employees' costs to travel to another state if needed to obtain a legal abortion.

In Dobbs et al. v. Jackson Women's Health Organization et al. , the high court's conservative majority overruled Roe , the landmark 1973 decision that gave people the constitutional right to abortion, and opened the door for states to adopt rigid bans on abortion. As a result, numerous major companies announced or reiterated that their health insurance policies would allow employees to access abortions out of state.

Among them, Disney reiterated its commitment to continuing to provide access to reproductive care to all its employees no matter where they live in internal memos Friday, according to a spokesperson.

"Disney employees who may be unable to access care in one location have affordable coverage for receiving similar levels of care in another location," the spokesperson said. "This travel benefit covers medical situations related to cancer treatments, transplants, rare disease treatment and family planning (including pregnancy termination)."

A spokesperson for Deutsche Bank said its policy will be similar to what fellow financial firms JPMorgan and Citigroup have done, which is update employee health plan coverage to include medical services that aren't available within 100 miles of an employee's home.

Deutsche Bank announced the policy internally Friday to help ensure equal access to health care regardless of what state its employees live in, the spokesperson said.

A Meta spokesperson told Law360 on Friday that the company behind Facebook intends to offer travel expense reimbursements "to the extent permitted by law" for its employees who need access to out-of-state reproductive services.

"We are in the process of assessing how best to do so given the legal complexities involved," Meta told Law360.

A spokesperson for Zillow Inc. similarly told Law360 that on June 1, it updated its health plan to reimburse employees up to $7,500 every time significant travel is necessary to access health care, which includes reproductive services or gender-affirming care.

The top executive at Dick's Sporting Goods also posted a message on LinkedIn on Friday saying that the company would provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursements for employees, their spouses and dependents enrolled in the company medical plan, as well as one support person, who need to travel to a location where abortion is legally available.

"We recognize people feel passionately about this topic — and that there are teammates and athletes who will not agree with this decision," Lauren Hobart, president and CEO of Dick's, wrote on LinkedIn.

"However, we also recognize that decisions involving health and families are deeply personal and made with thoughtful consideration," Hobart added. "We are making this decision so our teammates can access the same health care options, regardless of where they live, and choose what is best for them."

Uber issued a statement to Law360 on Friday saying that the company reiterated to its employees that its insurance plan already covers abortion and travel expenses to access health care.

"We will also continue to stand behind drivers, reimbursing legal expenses if any driver is sued under state law for providing transportation on our platform to a clinic," an Uber spokesperson said.

Sara Kelly, acting executive vice president of Starbucks' partner resources, told Starbucks workers in a letter Friday that the company would be providing a medical travel reimbursement to access an abortion, and said the benefit would soon also extend to access to gender-affirming care.

A spokesperson for PayPal said Friday that the company had implemented its policy covering travel expenses for out-of-state reproductive care in May following the state of Texas' abortion ban.

Yelp expanded its health insurance coverage in May to provide travel benefits to its employees and their dependents who need to access abortions in other states, a spokesperson told Law360.

"Business leaders must step up to support the health and safety of their employees by speaking out against the wave of abortion bans that will be triggered as a result of this decision, and call on Congress to codify Roe into law," Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said in a statement Friday.

Airbnb told Law360 on Friday that its health plans provide coverage for reproductive services, including travel and temporary housing expenses. Airbnb is also updating its leave policy to allow for up to 20 days of paid bereavement for a pregnancy loss.

Lyft, which already provides abortion access as part of its medical benefits plan as well as reimbursement for travel costs, said Friday the company would be expanding its legal defense commitment to states with laws restricting abortions.

"We're building on the steps we've already taken in Texas and Oklahoma by expanding our legal defense commitment to other states if they pass similar laws," a Lyft spokesperson said Friday. "No driver should have to ask a rider where they are going and why."

Nike, BuzzFeed, Conde Nast, Netflix, DoorDash, Patagonia and Reddit confirmed that they had similarly made changes to their corporate policies, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said on Twitter Friday afternoon that the company moves employees when they feel threatened or experience discrimination and that he would ensure they have the "best benefits and care."

JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Paramount, Tesla, Gap, Warner Bros. and others have announced similar policies. Law360 reached out to those companies for comment and did not immediately receive a response Friday.

--Editing by Abbie Sarfo.

Update: This article has been updated with responses from additional companies. 

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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