Legal Momentum News Brief - Week of September 17, 2018

September 20, 2018

Legal Momentum Talks to New York Magazine about Kavanaugh Case

Legal Momentum provided critical information on issues of privacy and rights of sexual assault survivors in a new article appearing in New York Magazine’s The Cut about the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Legal Momentum’s Deputy Legal Director, Jennifer Becker, highlighted the importance of confidentiality for survivors and their right to tell their stories on their own terms.

In the article, titled Dianne Feinstein Was Right to Grant Christine Blasey Ford Her Privacy, Jennifer Becker points out that “At its root, sexual violence is about power and control, so for victims and survivors they often feel powerless. Respecting confidentiality is essential to doing just that. We need to always support survivors by giving them power and control over their own life experiences.” Professor Ford initially wrote to Senator Feinstein of her experiences, and some have questioned the Senator’s timing in not making the letter public sooner. Ms. Becker said that Senator Feinstein “is following the best practices that are informed by years and years of advocates and experts in the field of gender-based violence, who recognize that supporting survivors means giving them the choice of whether or not their story would be publicly accessible.” Senator Feinstein has been a longtime supporter of the Violence Against Women Act.

Legal Momentum Influences Sex Harassment Training for NYS

Legal Momentum responded to New York State Governor Cuomo’s request for our expert input and recommendations to improve the state’s model complaint form, policy, and training regarding reporting, addressing, and preventing incidents of sexual harassment.  

New York State’s proposed Sexual Harassment Complaint Form, Policy, and Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training were compiled by the Governor’s Office, the NYS Department of Labor, and the NYS Division of Human Rights. Legal Momentum made numerous specific recommendations aiming to enhance accessibility for low-wage and immigrant women; empower and encourage complainants to report; address employer and industry-specific vulnerabilities; and enhance accountability, transparency, efficacy, and prevention to better address sexual harassment in the workplace. The recommendations included:

  • Simplifying language to enhance accessibility
  • Limiting/eliminating questions on prior or external complaints
  • Ensuring complainants are effectively notified
  • Strengthening anti-retaliation provisions
  • Emphasizing equality, inclusivity, and civility
  • Enhancing the interactive element of training

Legal Momentum believes these thorough and thoughtful model documents have the potential to provide New York State employers with a stronger foundation to address sexual harassment in their workplaces and to comply with the law.

NYC Council Awards Third Grant to Support Rights Now!

For the third year in a row, Legal Momentum has been designated to receive a $125,000 grant under the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative (YWI). The award will enable Legal Momentum to continue its Rights Now! Peer Educator Empowerment Program through June 2019. The Rights Now! curriculum is specifically geared towards at-risk girls and young women. It was first rolled out in the spring of 2017 under a previous YWI grant.  

The Rights Now! Program recruits and trains several young women in New York City to serve as peer educators and facilitate interactive workshops to empower young women to navigate and escape harmful relationships. The peer educators educate teen girls and young women about their legal rights and how to recognize the signs of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and how to report incidents of violence or harassment that occur in school. Rights Now! workshops are hosted by community organizations that work with young women and girls in New York City. To request more information or schedule a workshop, use the form on Legal Momentum’s website or email info@legalmomentum.org.

Legal Momentum Joins “PowHer the Vote” NY State Campaign

Legal Momentum is banding together with PowHer New York’s statewide network of more than 100 organizations to ensure that women count in the upcoming elections. The non-partisan initiative — PowHer the Vote — aims to protect and expand women’s rights in New York. This 10-week social media campaign will ensure that candidates address issues of importance to women.

Launched on Primary Day, Thursday, September 13, PowHer the Vote spotlights critical issues every week leading up to Election Day on November 6 with expert blogs, social media outreach, and online forums each Thursday from 2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m., focused around PowHer New York’s “10 Questions to Ask Candidates.” Topics include: Child Care, Better Jobs and Equal Pay, Reproductive Rights, Violence Against Women, Criminal Justice, Diversity, and Leadership. PowHer New York is a statewide network of individuals and organizations committed to accelerating economic equality for 10 million New York women and their families. You can find network lists, candidate questions, and more information at www.PowHerNY.org.