Legal Momentum Reaches Settlement with Construction Firm for Four Tradeswomen
On Monday, October 27, the Southern District of New York approved a consent decree settling the case of four women construction workers against their former employer, Vamco Sheet Metals, for gender discrimination that they reported they were subjected to in the workplace. According to the lawsuit, they were assigned low-level tasks like fetching coffee, had a supervisor refuse to acknowledge their presence, and called an "old hag." One woman, who needed to express breast milk for her infant, was denied a clean, private place to do so. Worst of all, they were unfairly terminated.
Legal Momentum represented the women in a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after an EEOC investigation. The consent decree commits Vamco to implement anti-discrimination practices that will protect future employees—including accommodating nursing employees—and will help ensure that women get a fair shake on the worksite.
Celebrating a Strong Partnership with the EEOC at Equal Opportunity in the Workplace Event
Legal Momentum's senior staff and several board members met with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Jenny Yang and selected guests at a breakfast celebrating Equal Opportunity in the Workplace on October 29 in Washington, D.C. Chair Yang spoke about the effectiveness of Legal Momentum's partnership with the EEOC and how, together, we achieve significant results in workplace discrimination cases. Carol Robles-Román spoke about how Legal Momentum works with public and private employers to develop effective workplace domestic violence policies that address employees both as victims and as abusers.
Legal Momentum Wins Federal Grant to Develop Training for Sexual Assault Victim Advocates
Legal Momentum will be partnering with the federal government on a new initiative to train victim advocates to more effectively protect victims' legal rights, such as privacy and confidentiality. Often, the advocates victims turn to in domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers are not legal experts and don't know how to effectively guide victims through the legal process in the aftermath of a sexual assault. Legal Momentum has been awarded a grant from the Department of Justice's Office of Violence against Women (OVW) to develop training materials that will help advocates in places such as rape crisis centers defend the legal rights of the victims they help. We will present the trainings nationally, and provide assistance to victim services organizations on effective implementation. When victims' rights are respected, perpetrators are more likely to be successfully prosecuted.
New York City Council Testimony on Campus Sexual Assault
On October 27, National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) Program Associate Eliana Theodorou (at right in photo) testified on behalf of Legal Momentum at a hearing on campus sexual assault convened by the New York City Council committees on Higher Education, Women's Issues, and Civil Rights. She spoke about Legal Momentum's work and provided the Council with suggestions and best practices for addressing this problem at schools in New York City. These include informing victims of the full range of their legal options, primary prevention and affirmative consent policies, ensuring that policies and services are victim-centered, and maintaining survivors' confidentiality. "Sexual violence at school is one of the most important obstacles today to young women achieving economic and political equality and a top priority for Legal Momentum," Eliana said. She also provided the council with copies of several of Legal Momentum's resources for students.
NJEP Educates Court Professionals around the Country
Legal Momentum's National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) educates multidisciplinary court-related professionals nationwide. When judges believe myths about rape and domestic violence, they may make biased and dangerous decisions. Dedicated domestic violence courts where judges have expertise lead to better outcomes. NJEP Project Attorney Claudia Bayliff was the keynote speaker at the launch of Oklahoma's first dedicated domestic violence court, where the Oklahoma Bar Association Family Law Division honored her for her leadership in addressing violence against women.
Legal Momentum's Senior Vice President and Director of NJEP, Lynn Hecht Schafran, Vice President for Government Relations Lisalyn Jacobs, and Claudia Bayliff celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) at the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) annual meeting in San Diego. NAWJ worked closely with Legal Momentum to pass VAWA. Legal Momentum led the opening plenary with an overview of the challenges to VAWA's passage and reauthorizations, and its many important achievements.
As an example of the education projects VAWA made possible, Claudia presented a workshop based on NJEP's online curriculum, Raped or "Seduced"? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence, which stresses the importance of using appropriate language about sexual violence. She also gave the widely acclaimed language presentation at the International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice in Phoenix, Arizona.
Teaching Students about Their Title IX Rights
As part of Legal Momentum's efforts to combat the epidemic of campus sexual assault, Senior Staff Attorney Christina Brandt-Young was a panelist at "Responding to Sexual Assault: A Teach-In" sponsored by Columbia University's Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality on October 23. The other panelists represented the Crime Victims Treatment Center, student organization No Red Tape, and the Center for Excellence in Preventing Sexual Assault. Christina emphasized that schools shouldn't wait for assaults to happen before responding. Under Title IX, educational institutions are required to provide a safe environment where students can learn free of sexual harassment and violence. She also spoke about students' Title IX rights at a previous teach-in held at Columbia in April, when she was quoted in a Columbia Spectator article, Amid wave of Title IX complaints, Columbia stands out.
Legal Momentum 10th Annual Women of Achievement Awards to Be Celebrated in March
Save the Date! March 5, 2015
Legal Momentum Honorary Board Member Muriel Fox Honored by Veteran Feminists of America
At a luncheon at the Harvard Club in New York on October 21, the Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) honored Muriel Fox, a co-founder of NOW and of Legal Momentum and an honorary member of Legal Momentum's board of directors, for her brilliant efforts on behalf of the women's movement in general and Legal Momentum in particular. Muriel has been active as a feminist organizer, speaker, writer, editor, and events chair since the 1960s and is a leader of the modern women's movement. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem presented the Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2008, VFA also honored Legal Momentum's Lynn Hecht Schafran and past board and staff members, including 1970s board members Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sylvia Roberts and our first legal director, Phyllis Segal, at its Salute to Feminist Lawyers 1963-1975.
Carol Robles-Román Named New York Brava! Award Winner
On September 23, Legal Momentum's President and CEO, Carol Robles-Román, received a 2014 Brava! Award from New York SmartCEO magazine. The Brava! awards recognize the area's top female CEOs for their entrepreneurial spirit and passion for giving back to the community. The 40 winners, who were chosen from more than 200 nominations, were also profiled in the September/October issue of New York SmartCEO.
New Book: What Women Want: An Agenda for the Women's Movement
Legal Momentum Board of Directors Vice Chair Deborah Rhode has authored a new book, What Women Want: An Agenda for the Women's Movement, that looks at the main issues and obstacles facing women today, such as employment discrimination, domestic violence, and reproductive rights, and discusses how the women's movement can successfully address them. Deborah is the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law, the Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, and the Director of the Program in Law and Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, and is also the author of The Beauty Bias, Lawyers as Leaders, and other books.
Recent News Stories by and about Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum Alumna to Lead Premier Public Interest Law Firm
On October 28, former Legal Momentum intern Jessie Kornberg was named President and CEO of Bet Tzedek, a leading public interest law firm. Jessie becomes the first woman to lead the nonprofit organization, which provides free legal services to 15,000 indigent, elderly, and disabled Los Angeles residents each year. She previously served on the Bet Tzedek board of directors. Her earliest exposure to impact litigation and strategic policy work came when she was a legal fellow with Legal Momentum (then known as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund).