Legal Momentum News Brief—Week of March 12, 2018

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March 2018

Legal Momentum Argues against Sex Stereotypes in the Workplace and Schools, and for Reproductive Rights 

February was a busy month for Legal Momentum’s lawyers. Legal Momentum signed on to amicus briefs in three important cases on gender-based discrimination and access to reproductive healthcare. Two of the cases, R.M.A. (minor child) v. Blue R-IV School District, et al and Lampley v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights, are with the Missouri Supreme Court; the third, NIFLA v. Becerra, is in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In the case of NIFLA v. Becerra, Legal Momentum signed on to a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Women’s Law Center. The case, covered by NPR’s Morning Edition on Tuesday, pits the right to know against the right of free speech. On one side are self-identified "crisis pregnancy centers" that seek to prevent abortions, and on the other is the state of California, which enacted a truth in advertising law to ensure that these centers do not mislead women. The brief seeks to uphold the California law.

R.M.A. (minor child) v. Blue R-IV School District, et al concerns whether discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under the Missouri Human Rights Act. The brief Legal Momentum signed on to charts the ways that so-called “protective” policies have actually been used to hurt the rights of oppressed groups, including women. Lampley v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights also concerns sex discrimination and sex-stereotyping, in this case when it occurs in the workplace. The amicus brief argues that sexual orientation discrimination is an illegal form of sex discrimination under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

ACTION ITEM: Your Help Needed Today to Pass Anti-Trafficking Bill

Legal Momentum and many leading anti-trafficking organizations have been working to pass legislation that would enable trafficking survivors to bring civil suits against websites that have knowingly facilitated trafficking. The bill, known as FOSTA-SESTA, will come to the Senate Floor on Wednesday, March 21. We are asking our supporters to contact their Senators now to advocate for this crucial legislation. 

FOSTA was amended to match the language in SESTA, and therefore Legal Momentum and its allies are supporting that bill. Because it has been anonymously put on hold by a few Democratic Senators, Legal Momentum asks its supporters to call their Senators to thank them for their support of the legislation and confirm they will vote YES on FOSTA-SESTA. Please call 202-225-3121 and hit 1. You will be transferred to your Senator’s office. (Do this twice, since you have two Senators.) Here’s what you can say: "My name is ___ and I live in _____ (State). I am calling to thank Senator ______ for supporting FOSTA-SESTA and I am calling to confirm that she/he will vote YES so that survivors and states finally will have the legal tools to hold websites accountable for knowingly facilitating human trafficking. Thank you." 

Legal Momentum Allies with NY Governor Cuomo’s Office

As part of Legal Momentum’s Working Women’s Empowerment Initiative, Legal Momentum Gender Justice Fellow Seher Khawaja is collaborating with statewide efforts to empower low-wage and immigrant women in the workplace. 

On March 8, Ms. Khawaja met with Norma Ramos, Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights, Kelli Owens, the Director of Women’s Affairs, Shareema Abel, and Molly Dillon, a Senior Policy Advisor, from the office of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo so that we can develop future collaborations and bring the forthcoming Working Women’s Empowerment Toolkit to the low-wage and immigrant women who have the greatest need for resources and information about their legal rights. The Governor’s Office also invited Legal Momentum to provide input on legislative and policy proposals relating to women in the workplace.

Rights Now! Peer Educators Graduate Ready to Lead

The young women leading Legal Momentum’s Rights Now! Peer Educator Empowerment Program demonstrated their leadership abilities on March 2 at their graduation by moderating two career-oriented panel discussions with Legal Momentum staff. The Peer Educators also gave individual presentations marking the completion of 56 hours of training. 

These impressive young women completed a program that included reading two books, numerous articles, and training to lead interactive workshop exercises and facilitate discussions among their peers. At community organizations throughout the city from March through June, the Peer Educators will be providing a total of 17 activity-based workshops on healthy relationships and legal rights for teens and young men and women.

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