Legal Momentum News Brief—December 18, 2017

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December 2017

Legal Momentum Joins #EnoughIsEnough National Anti-Harassment Campaign

The old ways of dealing with sexual harassment and assault—secrecy, avoidance, denial and excuses—are crumbling. New solutions are needed. The #EnoughIsEnough campaign is committed to supporting survivors who are breaking their silence, and to making sure that their brave disclosures result in meaningful change. To achieve this, the campaign partners will convene a one-day summit in February 2018 to develop initiatives for ending misogyny and sexual violence. 

Enough Is Enough logo

“We are calling for a radical shift in how our government and institutions investigate complaints of harassment and sexual violence,” says Carol Robles-Roman, President of Legal Momentum. “We insist that a renewed culture of system-wide accountability and enforcement of basic rights take hold.”

The #EnoughIsEnough campaign brings together diverse voices and perspectives to develop effective strategies for preventing, addressing, and responding to sexual harassment in workplaces and schools. The campaign focuses on low-paid workers, who cannot afford to confront their bosses or talk to the press. Nearly two-thirds of the 20 million low-wage workers are women, and more than a quarter experience sexual harassment on the job.

The other organizations spearheading #EnoughIsEnough are the National Organization for Women (NOW), Feminist Majority, National Congress of Black Women, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and UNITE HERE.

7 Recommendations for New York City on Protecting Women in the Workplace

Through the Legal Momentum Helpline, we speak with, advise, and represent women facing sexual harassment in the workplace. We know, and continue to see, that sexual harassment results from an imbalance in power. For low-wage, immigrant women, this power imbalance is much greater, and their vulnerabilities are much more severe. As a result of our Helpline experience, Legal Momentum advised the New York City Commission on Human Rights that taking these 7 steps will help safeguard vulnerable women:

  1. Educating employees on their rights

  2. Penalizing retaliation by employers

  3. Improving reporting mechanisms

  4. Extending reporting deadlines

  5. Monitoring employers in low-wage industries

  6. Improving employer practices

  7. Requiring training for human resources professionals

Legal Momentum Alumna Named Dean at Columbia Law School

An alumna of Legal Momentum’s internship program, Erica Smock, will serve as the new Dean of Social Justice Initiatives at Columbia Law School.  

Lynn Hecht Schafran (L) with Erica Smock (R)

Columbia Law School’s Social Justice Initiatives (SJI) support all Columbia Law students and alumni who are interested in  public interest, government, and legal volunteer work. SJI also implements and oversees Columbia Law School's Pro Bono Program, and the Law School's Clerkship Program. New Dean Erica Smock’s career includes positions at women’s legal rights organizations on both coasts, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she helped lead a successful Supreme Court case, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Lynn Hecht Schafran, Legal Momentum’s Senior Vice President, Acting Legal Director, and Director of the National Judicial Education Program, celebrated Dean Smock’s appointment at a breakfast at the Penn Club on December 6.

Legal Momentum Amicus Briefs That Could Help Set Precedents

Legal Momentum has joined friend-of-the-court briefs in several important cases related to women’s rights. The cases could set precedents on issues including international child abduction, equal pay, discrimination based on gender stereotypes, and more. Here are the recent key cases where Legal Momentum has drafted or signed on to an amicus brief:

  • City of Tuscaloosa v. Stephanie Hicks:Stephanie Hicks was a Tuscaloosa police officer who was demoted just after returning from maternity leave, forcing her to choose between continuing to breastfeed or risking her life. Legal Momentum signed on to the American Civil Liberties Union’s amicus brief in late 2016, along with 22 other women’s rights groups. Result: the court decided in Hicks’s favor in September, 2017.  

  • Davies v. Davies: Because of our specialized expertise, Legal Momentum worked with Sanctuary for Families on a case that could set an important precedent related to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. We filed one of three amicus briefs that explains how children are harmed by being in an environment of domestic abuse—even when they themselves are not directly victimized by the abuser.

  • Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia v. City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights: Legal Momentum joined an amicus by the Women’s Law Project on the matter of equal pay.

  • LaCount v. South Lewis SH OPCO: Legal Momentum signed on to the brief filed by the ACLU Women’s Rights Project in this pregnancy discrimination case where a woman was forced to take unpaid leave that resulted in her termination.

  • Martinez Jones v. Amicua: Legal Momentum signed on to a brief by the Family Violence Appellate Project in this California case involving domestic abuse and child custody. 

  • Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Legal Momentum signed on to the National Women’s Law Center’s brief, one of many on both sides of this newsworthy gender discrimination and First Amendment case. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on December 5, and a decision is expected in the spring.