In Low-Wage Jobs, Working While Black Means Showing Up Sick


Explore Our Galleries

A man stands in front of the Djingareyber mosque on February 4, 2016 in Timbuktu, central Mali. 
Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu on February 4 celebrated the recovery of its historic mausoleums, destroyed during an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and rebuilt thanks to UN cultural agency UNESCO.
African Peoples Before Captivity
Shackles from Slave Ship Henrietta Marie
Kidnapped: The Middle Passage
Enslaved family picking cotton
Nearly Three Centuries Of Enslavement
Image of the first black members of Congress
Reconstruction: A Brief Glimpse of Freedom
The Lynching of Laura Nelson_May_1911 200x200
One Hundred Years of Jim Crow
Civil Rights protest in Alabama
I Am Somebody! The Struggle for Justice
Black Lives Matter movement
NOW: Free At Last?
#15-Beitler photo best TF reduced size
Memorial to the Victims of Lynching
hands raised black background
The Freedom-Lovers’ Roll Call Wall
Frozen custard in Milwaukee's Bronzeville
Special Exhibits
Dr. James Cameron
Portraiture of Resistance

Breaking News!

Today's news and culture by Black and other reporters in the Black and mainstream media.

Ways to Support ABHM?

By Jennifer Porter Gore, Word in Black

A temporary federal law during COVID gave low-wage workers paid sick leave. But the law expired, forcing a huge chunk of Black workers to clock in when they should stay home.

Because they were deemed essential workers, grocery store clerks got paid sick leave — temporarily. Now, they’re forced to make a tough choice: work while they or a loved one are sick, or lose a day’s pay (Credit: Getty Images).

In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed a temporary law that allowed employees, who are disproportionately Black and Latino, to claim up to two weeks of paid sick leave for pandemic-related illness. For the first time, low-wage workers had access to sick leave for themselves or to care for loved ones. 

Eight years earlier, several states and the District of Columbia had enacted laws requiring employers to allow workers to earn paid sick time. However, the pandemic revealed how much the lack of paid sick days still affected thousands of hourly workers and many states and localities began offering some type of paid time off for illness.

But an economic analysis — coupled with the demographics of states that haven’t expanded sick leave to hourly workers — found that swaths of Black workers have to come to work even if they are sick.

“During the pandemic, workers and their families benefited when the government acted quickly to protect workers from the threat of COVID and the threat of economic insecurity,” according to the report from the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. Forcing people to come to work when they’re sick, the report states, is a public health hazard and harms the economy.

Continue reading.

Read more Breaking News here.

Explore our virtual exhibit galleries here.

Comments Are Welcome

Note: We moderate submissions in order to create a space for meaningful dialogue, a space where museum visitors – adults and youth –– can exchange informed, thoughtful, and relevant comments that add value to our exhibits.

Racial slurs, personal attacks, obscenity, profanity, and SHOUTING do not meet the above standard. Such comments are posted in the exhibit Hateful Speech. Commercial promotions, impersonations, and incoherent comments likewise fail to meet our goals, so will not be posted. Submissions longer than 120 words will be shortened.

See our full Comments Policy here.

Leave a Comment