Legal Momentum News Brief, March 2013

If you are being watched, leave now!

March 30, 2013

Supporting Women’s Equality Agenda

Legal Momentum is part of the New York Women's Equality Coalition that supports the Women’s Equality Agenda--Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ten-point plan to address women’s issues in the state--including pregnancy discrimination, domestic violence, and equal pay. As part of that support, we were in Albany on Monday, March 4 joining several representatives of women’s rights organizations for a rally, and in New York City on Friday, March 8, joining organizations, current and former members of congress, and New York City council members to celebrate the Women’s Equality Agenda and New York's leadership on these issues.

Working On Equal Terms: A Summit on Women and Construction

Legal Momentum and the New York Collaboration for Women in Construction presented a groundbreaking summit on March 18, which brought together tradeswomen, union representatives, government officials, contractors, civil rights organizations, and business leaders for an in-depth discussion on the future of women in construction and current job opportunities and working conditions.  Patricia Shiu, Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the U.S Department of Labor, was the opening speaker at the Summit.  Our feedback on the event was very strong about the Summit being informative and energizing for the participants. Pat Shiu's opening remarks at the Summit can be read here, in which she thanked Legal Momentum and other members of the Collaboration for inviting her to participate.  Among the topics she spoke about was the prospect of increasing the number of women in the construction trades through strong enforcement and collaboration among government, industry and advocates to connect workers with available jobs.

The Violence Against Women Act Re-authorization Signed into Law

Legal Momentum attended the signing of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013 (VAWA) on Thursday, March 7.  Our work and analysis on the passage of the Act and its implications have been reported in In These Times Magazine, Al Jazeera and NPR's All Things Considered.

Furthering the Protections for Domestic Violence Victims

We were also part of the discussion at the 17th Annual Fordham University Forum on Domestic Violence in March.  Our presentation centered on how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) might apply to domestic violence victims.  No specific legislation currently exists at the federal level protecting victims of domestic violence.  In some circumstances though, domestic violence victims might be protected under Title VII or the ADA.  Specifically, now that the ADA Amendments Act has broadened the definition of a disability, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking victims who suffer from physical or mental injuries may find job protections and accommodations easier to secure under the ADA.

OFCCP Ends Rigid Pay Discrimination Investigation Procedures

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has announced the rescission of Bush-era policies that had been hindering the investigation of pay discrimination claims under Executive Order 11246.  At the same time, Director Patricia Shiu has issued new guidance on how to investigate such claims. 

Legal Momentum advocated for these changes, as the former policies were too rigid and required more than what is required under Title VII principles to establish proof of discrimination.  This rescission and new guidance restores much-needed flexibility for OFCCP investigators to effectively investigate and then rectify compensation discrimination when found.  Eradicating pay discrimination benefits women, their families, and the nation's economy. For more information about the rescission and the new policy directive, please visit here.

Our “Worst Off” Report Continues to be Cited in the Press

Legal Momentum’s “Worst Off” report, which compares American single-parent families with single-parent families in 16 other high-income countries, continues to be cited in a number of major media outlets, including a Forbes article on how teen mothers are targeted, an article in The Nation on the benefits of universal preschool, and in noted writer Susan Faludi’s critique of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” venture, on CNN Opinion.

***March News Items from Around the Nation***

Poverty/TANF: The House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing on TANF work waivers.  Elizabeth Lower-Basch’s testimony has a good critique of TANF's current work rules.

Poverty/TANF: Low-income families may be hit harder by budget cuts, including for safety-net WIC and food stamp programs.

Women’s Rights: More unfortunate comments from legislators about women: an Iowa state representative says divorce laws should be made tougher, or teen girls may be ‘more promiscuous.’

Violence Against Women: The New York Times has an article on how female veterans are suffering from military sexual trauma, which is a contributing factor in these veterans becoming the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population.

Violence Against Women: Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, speaks about teen dating violence awareness and prevention.