Legal Momentum In Brief, February-March 2014

Legal Momentum In Brief, February-March 2014

April 3, 2014 - 11:19 -- Jean Gazis
March 27, 2014

Recent and Upcoming Events

Women of Achievement Awards Dinner a Great Success

Legal Momentum hosted its ninth annual Women of Achievement Awards, which celebrates women of distinction in business, law, and public service, at the InterContinental San Francisco on Thursday, March 20th, 2014. The event honored seven accomplished women who have reached high levels in the fields of law and business, highlighted Legal Momentum’s mission and recent work, and offered an excellent networking opportunity for attendees. Attendance was at capacity. Pictured, left to right: Kerry Francis, Adriane Brown, Carrie Dwyer, Laureen Seeger, Lucy Lee Helm, Mary Murphy. Not pictured: Van Dang.

Aiming High Awards Luncheon to Take Place in New York in April

There’s still time to register for Legal Momentum’s fourteenth annual Aiming High Awards luncheon, to be held at the New York Hilton on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014. The Aiming High awards will honor five accomplished women who have excelled in their professions, and the event has become known as an exceptional networking opportunity. The 2014 honorees include Amy Olli, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, CA Technologies; Doris Meister, President, U.S. Markets – Tri-State, BNY Mellon Wealth Management; Bea Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Coca-Cola Company; Ilene Wachs, President, Horizon Casualty services, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; and Linda Zukauckas, Executive Vice President and Corporate Controller, American Express. For sponsorship information, please visit our website, call 212-413-7557 or email mailto:jrepcheck@legalmomentum.org.

Legal Action

New York City Discriminates against Pregnant Police Officer

On Monday, March 17, Legal Momentum filed a charge on behalf of New York City Police Department Office Akema Thompson, who was denied the opportunity to take the promotional examination for sergeant due to her pregnancy. The test is given only once every few years, and the 2013 exam date was the same day as the due date for her first child. The city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services will reschedule tests for other reasons such as religious observance, jury duty, and injury. But DCAS denied repeated requests by Officer Thompson, as well as the Policeman’s Benevolent Association on her behalf, stating it was against their policy to do so for pregnancy related reasons. Read the full press release about the case on our website.

Duane Reade Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Legal Momentum is co-representing cashier Keron Bartley against her employer, Duane Reade, for failing to provide reasonable accommodations during her pregnancy. Ms. Bartley had a high risk pregnancy, but was still denied a stool to sit on, water bottles for hydration when cashiering, and assistance with heavy lifting.  She was also harassed for requesting time off for doctor visits.  She gave birth prematurely and the baby died two weeks later.

A Court Victory for Our Women Sheet Metal Workers

Defendant Vamco challenged Legal Momentum’s Motion for Intervention on several fronts.  After briefing the issues for the court, the judge upheld our clients’ right to intervene on allegations of sex discrimination under the New York City human rights law.  In addition, the Court recognized that our client’s allegation regarding lactation—she was discriminated against in the workplace when she attempted to take breaks for the expression of breast milk—could be sustained as a violation of Title VII. This is a precedent-setting ruling and can be used to further the rights of other breast-feeding mothers. 

Judicial Education

NJEP Presents on Language and Sexual Assault to State Judicial Groups

National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) Project Attorney Claudia Bayliff was invited to give presentations based on the NJEP online curriculum Raped or Seduced? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence. In early March, she presented a webinar on using appropriate language when we speak and write about sexual assault for the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Measuring Effectiveness Initiative (VAWA MEI) program at the Muskie School of Public Service in Portland, Maine. The program collects and evaluates information from all Office of Violence against Women (OVW) grantees and then reports to Congress. They invited Ms. Bayliff to give the webinar to assist them in writing their Congressional report.  

On March 24, Ms. Bayliff gave the language presentation for the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts, the implementation committee for the New York Task Force on Women in the Courts. This was one of 45 task forces appointed by state supreme courts to investigate gender bias in their own court systems and recommend reforms. These task forces were established in response to the judicial education programs of Legal Momentum's National Judicial Education Program (NJEP), and NJEP's Director Lynn Hecht Schafran served as advisor to almost all of them. For the New York task force she was also co-author of its report. The New York implementation committee is outstanding in that it has been active since it was appointed in l986, immediately after the New York Task Force issued its report.

Policy Advocacy

Addressing the Issue of Gender-Based Violence

The theme of this year’s Fordham Law School Conference on Domestic Violence was Surviving Revictimization: Challenging Social and Institutional Responses to Gender Violence.

Legal Momentum Staff Attorney Jelena Kolic spoke on the topic of Post Separation Abuse: the Use and Impact of the Hague Convention During International Custody Disputes at the 18th annual conference on March 3. Fellow panelists were Dorchen Leidholdt, Legal Director, Sanctuary for Families Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services, Jane Kim, associate at  Gibson, Dunn and Krutcher, and Jennifer Baum, Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic at St. John’s University School of Law. The panel discussed complex Hague Convention cases and a bill that Legal Momentum and others are seeking to introduce which would make the International Child Abduction Remedies Act more responsive to victims of domestic violence.

On March 4, Legal Momentum’s Senior Attorney Christina Brandt-Young moderated a panel on Gender-Based Violence on College Campuses: Institutional Responses and Legal Advocacy for the Rights of Survivors. The panelists were Coleen Chin, Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights; Julie Goldsheid, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law; Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union; Eliza Straim, Trainings Coordinator, Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER); and Amy Zavadil, Associate Dean for Equity, Barnard College. The panel explored the interplay between Title IX, the Clery Act, and civil and criminal protective orders in addressing violence against women on campus.

Updates to Key Poverty Reports Gain Media Attention

In early March, Tim Casey, director of Legal Momentum’s Women and Poverty program, released a new 2014 update to the report Single Parenthood in the United States–A Snapshot. Single parenthood is very common in the United States. In 2013, 28% of children were living with a single parent, and half or more of today’s children will likely spend at least part of their childhood in a single parent family. Most single parents are mothers. The report highlights the high poverty rate for single mothers and the need for a strong safety net. Read the report here.

A TANF Misery Index 2014 Update was issued in mid-February. The report measures the gap between benefit levels and the poverty line, and between the number of poor families and those actually receiving TANF benefits. The new report was cited by the online news outlet Think Progress in an article entitled The Failure of Welfare Reform Hits New Records.

Equality Works Launches “Tradeswomen’s Tuesdays” Visibility Campaign

On March 4th, Legal Momentum’s Equality Works program launched its exciting new Tradeswomen’s Tuesdays online visibility campaign for the women who build our nation. Equality Works focuses on increasing women’s participation in non-traditional careers that provide high wages, benefits, and pathways out of poverty. Through profiling pioneering tradeswomen in our blog and social media each week, Tradeswomen’s Tuesdays aims to raise public awareness that careers such as the construction trades are viable options for women. In its first few installments, the campaign has garnered an enthusiastic response in social and online media, including a mention on the AFL-CIO’s blog.

Ensuring Effective Implementation of WANTO

The president's budget published in March did not include a request for funds for the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations Act (WANTO) program for fiscal year 2015. Instead, they say that expanding apprenticeship opportunities will be advanced through the Office of Apprenticeship (OA). However, we do not see additional funding that focuses on gender equityfor the OA and—as our authoritative report, Still Excluded,— shows, the OA has seen shrinking numbers of women, who are mostly in lower-paying apprenticeships. We are concerned that more apprenticeship opportunities for women will reinforce occupational segregation instead of integrating more women into higher-paying, nontraditional careers. The National Task Force on Tradeswomen’s Issues, which Legal Momentum co-leads, is working to ensure funding for training and technical assistance to support women’s entry and success in non-traditional occupations.

Promoting Girls’ Participation in Career and Technical Education

This spring, Equality Works Program Coordinator Brigitte Watson was invited to present at several New York City public school events on gender equality in career and technical education. The events include a career fair at the science and Medicine Middle School in Brooklyn on March 28, Ditmas I.S. 62’s annual Law Day on May 9,and the Construction Trades, Engineering, and Architecture High School’s annual Career Day, also on May 9.

On March 10, The NYC Career and Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Council Working Group Subcommittee on Gender Equity, led by Legal Momentum held a very productive meeting with representatives from the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), United Federation of Teachers (UFT), New York City Department of Education, and New York City government representatives. The group examined the various organizations’ roles in recruiting and retaining girls in CTE high school programs and how to implement Legal Momentum’s Pipeline Project Recommendations. Representatives of the UFT and CSA made a commitment to advocate for more action on gender equity in CTE with the new Mayor and Schools Chancellor.

CUNY Panel on Women and Career Pathways

Ms. Watson will also participate in a panel discussion on internships in government/law at the Magner Center for Career Development and Internships at Brooklyn College on April 1.

Strategies That Work to Remove Barriers

On March 21, Equality Works program manager Françoise Jacobsohn participated in a special breakfast session on Game Changers: New Strategies for Crushing the Barriers for Women Entering the Construction Trades presented by the Labor Resource Center at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. The conference examined recent successes in increasing women’s participation in construction work in the Boston area and what needs to happen to continue growing opportunities for women. Federal, state and city representatives attended, as well as national and local contractors, compliance officers, union leaders, workforce development and community organizations, and tradeswomen and men.  Recent successes in the Boston area include tradeswomen working 9% of all hours on key UMass and Boston construction.  This success comes through a combination of legislation, transparency, governmental coordination and tradeswomen’s advocacy—especially through the Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues, a member of the National Task Force on Tradeswomen’s Issues that Legal Momentum co-leads.

Upcoming State and National Summits on Work/Family Issues

Legal Momentum’s Françoise Jacobsohn, program manager for Equality Works, and Lisalyn Jacobs, vice president for governmental affairs are working behind the scenes on the New York State Summit on Work/Family Issues in New York City on May 12. The summit is part of a series of meetings around the country that will culminate in a national White House Summit on Work/Family Issues in June in which we are also participating. We are working with other nonprofits, the Department of Labor, the White House Council on Women and Girls and the AFL-CIO to ensure that women’s economic and personal security issues are included in all the summits.

Training on Gender Justice

On March 21, Legal Momentum’s vice president for governmental relations, Lisalyn Jacobs, facilitated a 90-minute training on gender justice, covering systems of gender oppression, gender justice core concepts and vocabulary, and effective allyship, for the We Build Community program for member organizations of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations. Legal Momentum was invited to present the training by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), one of the member organizations.

People

Lynn Hecht Schafran to Receive EVAWI’s Visionary Award

End Violence Against Women International has announced that Legal Momentum’s Acting President, Lynn Hecht Schafran, will be the distinguished recipient of this year's Visionary Award to be presented at the International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Trafficking taking placein Seattle in April.

The Visionary Award recognizes individuals for their vision and leadership in ending violence against women. EVAWI cited Ms. Schafran for her years of dedicated service as a leader in the legal field, a profound and prolific writer, and an incisive legal scholar, stating that “Her work to bring educational programming to judges currently hearing these cases has been both groundbreaking and transformational.”

In addition to receiving the award, Ms. Schafran will be giving a presentation at the conference on Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: From Teen Dating Violence to Trafficking.

Equality Works Graduate Intern Grace Boone

Grace Boone is an M.P.A candidate at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University who has devoted her career to improving the lives of women and girls and helping nonprofits maximize their outreach capacity. Prior to pursuing her master’s degree, Grace worked at Dress for Success Worldwide and Girls Incorporated. She has experience in online communications and promoting donor engagement. Grace graduated from the Kogod School of Business at The American University and serves on the board of the Women's City Club of New York. At Legal Momentum, Grace is producing profiles of tradeswomen for our Tradeswomen’s Tuesdays visibility campaign for non-traditional careers and preparing manuals on adopting local policies to support women in non-traditional occupations

Women: A Celebration of Strength

Women: A Celebration of Strength Still Available

A limited number of copies of Legal Momentum’s unique, interactive book on women’s history, Women: A Celebration of Strength, are available at only $35 including shipping and handling—below list price! Reading this beautifully illustrated and constructed volume is like a virtual museum tour. Click here to order your copy today.

News from Around the Nation:

Lisalyn Jacobs Writes about How Policy Can Empower Survivors of Domestic Violence

Legal Momentum’s vice president for governmental relations, Lisalyn Jacobs, has written an article for Women’s eNews entitled Women: When We Succeed We Can Also Escape Abuse. The article outlines several ways in which equal pay and sick and safe leave can enable survivors of domestic violence to escape their abusers. Higher wages mean survivors can more easily break away from an abuser and afford such things as child care.

New Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

New laws regarding pregnancy discrimination have recently been passed or taken effect in several states and municipalities around the country, including New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Colorado. (Legal Momentum and our client Angie Welfare helped to pass the New York law.) The interactive Pregnancy Rights Map and State Law Guides on Legal Momentum’s website have been updated accordingly. The map offers a resource to the public for information about laws regarding workplace pregnancy accommodations, breastfeeding, and employment rights around the country.

Affordable Care Act Enrollment Deadline Is March 31st

Women can enroll in health insurance coverage this year through the Insurance Insurance Marketplace--and many women will qualify for financial help making coverage for their family affordable. But they need to act now: Open Enrollment ends March 31st.

The application process can be done online, using an email address. Visit healthcare.gov or call the Call Center at 1-800-318-2586.You can also find certified in-person help in your area by going to localhelp.healthcare.gov and entering the ZIP code.

Enhancing Safety: A Guide to Identifying Services

The Center for Family Policy and Practice has developed a Guide to Identifying Services designed for domestic violence advocates and anyone working in low-income communities. African American and Latina women who live in poverty – including domestic violence victims and survivors – have identified that sometimes connecting the men in their lives to social welfare services would help ease women’s burden. The Guide to Identifying Services helps service providers find and learn about local programs that work with low-income men and figure out whether connecting them could respond to a currently unmet need among women. The Center for Family Policy and Practice provides technical assistance and training on domestic violence and services in low-income communities of color.

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