Women Lawyers On Guard Action Network Inc. is co-sponsoring a conference on the Equal Rights Amendment in Richmond, VA, on Saturday, October 26, 2019. At that conference, we will be presenting a panel on Gender Pay Equity, including: some shocking statistics on the gender pay gap, legislative and litigation addressing the gap, how the ERA might help close the gap (or not), and some practical ways that legal employers can address this problem. Registration link is HERE (scroll toward bottom). The tickets are only $65 for lawyers, $10 for students and $20 for lawyers practicing five years or less. Abigail Spanberger, Ellie Smeal and other notables will be speaking at the conference.
This New York magazine article examines the consequences of coming forward to report sexual assault or harassment. The cost to women survivors comes not only in the assault or harassment itself, but also in the aftermath of reporting it. Read more: https://www.thecut.com/2019/09/coming-forward-about-sexual-assault-and-what-comes-after.html
Women Lawyers on Guard signed onto four amicus briefs on the subject of who is a “public charge,” including La Clinica de la Raza v. Trump; State of California v. Department of Homeland Security; State of New York v. Department of Homeland Security, and Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli.
You may have read in the news that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented regulations that add a significant burden to those who seek to immigrate to the USA. The Immigration and Nationality Act bars an individual from obtaining a green card (and other legal statuses) if they are “likely” to “become a public charge.” Since Congress first introduced the term in 1882, “public charge” has been understood as including very specific programs, i.e. only someone who is dependent on the government to avoid destitution. Congress has never altered this longstanding meaning of “public charge.”
However, the Department of Homeland Security has recently promulgated new regulations, set to take effect in mid-October unless stopped by these pending litigation cases. This rule adds significantly to the programs that immigrants cannot take advantage of and still hope to become legal. In addition, the rules have added a minimum income threshold as well as an English proficiency standard. Those who have studied the regulation have determined that huge swaths of legal citizens could not even meet these tests, and it has already dissuaded legal immigrants from accessing certain programs that have been accessible to them for decades
The four amicus briefs that we have signed onto inform the court of the particularly detrimental effect this regulation will have on women.
Women Lawyers On Guard just signed onto an amicus brief in Kesterson v Kent State University, U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Cir. At issue is who, at a University, a person who has been raped must report to before the school has liability. Kesterson was raped by her softball coach’s son in her freshman year. When she finally summoned up the courage to tell her coach in her sophomore year, the coach (Karen Linder) did not report the rape to the Title IX office, as required by school policy. Instead, she told Kesterson not to tell anyone else, and retaliated against Kesterson. Kesterson eventually told four more officials at Kent State including two assistant coaches and the Executive Director of the school’s Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services.
The District Court held that none of these reports gave the school “actual knowledge” and therefore the school had no liability or duty to respond, until Kesterson herself reported to the Title IX office a year later. Needless to say, Kesterson suffered both academically and athletically.
The amicus brief argues that the school received actual notice based on the actual knowledge of five school employees and that the “appropriate person” test developed in employee-student cases should not apply to peer-to-peer sexual harassment.
NWLC Brief (as filed)
On April 30th, a House Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment for the first time in 36 years. Wasting no time, Women Lawyers On Guard Action Network delivered a letter to the committee addressing three issues with detailed and persuasive legal arguments. We argued, for example, that the deadline does not preclude ratification now, and that the Amendment is still very necessary. Letter here.
Many thanks to the WLGAN network volunteers who assisted in this effort.