Supreme Court Rules That For-Profit Employers Can Refuse to Cover Birth Control
Pennsylvania Women's Advocates Cry Foul
photo credit: Jeffrey Martin, www.photosbyjeffrey.com
On May 6th, Carol Tracy, WLP Executive Director, joined with others on Capitol Hill as part of a Mothers' Day Event to demonstrate support for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Pictured here with Carol are Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Senator Casey has been a strong and outspoken supporter of protecting working mothers.
Legacy Fund Honors Legendary Women’s Rights Activist Kate Michelman, Focuses on Protecting Women’s Reproductive Rights
On April 24th, the Women’s Law Project announced the establishment of the Kate Michelman Legacy Fund, dedicated to advancing the ongoing work of protecting the reproductive freedom of women in Pennsylvania and beyond. (see press release.)
|Kate also received the 2014 Myra Bradwell Award, which recognizes individuals whose work symbolizes the spirit and determination demonstrated by Myra Bradwell, a 19th Century feminist who broke down barriers that prohibited women from practicing law. The Honorable Edward G. Rendell presented the award to Kate, calling her “a fearless leader who transformed the debate in the United States about a woman’s right to choose as a fundamental American liberty.”|
On April 17th, the Women’s Law Project filed complaints with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education against nine members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PSSHE),ask ing OCR to address the historical and ongoing failure of these universities to provide equal athletic opportunity to their female students. The nine universities are Bloomsburg, Cheyney, Clarion, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, and Shippensburg.
See letter to counsel for PSSHE. See Full Press Release.
On April 2, the Women’s Law Project and Flaster/Greenberg P.C. announced the successful resolution of a lawsuit on behalf of a Pennsylvania seventh-grade female student who was denied the opportunity to participate in the Line Mountain School District’s all-male wrestling program, in violation of her constitutional rights. Go to full story. See Consent Decree.
|Under a new law known as The Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act (or Act 82 Article XVI-C) that passed on June 30, 2012, secondary schools are required to provide annual, publicly released reports containing information about school-sponsored athletic programs in order to improve schools’ compliance with Title IX and work towards achieving gender equality.|
In Philadelphia, it is now unlawful for an employer to deny a pregnant employee access to water, bathroom breaks, or any other reasonable accommodation that does not present an undue hardship to the employer. On January 20, 2014, Mayor Nutter signed into law an amendment to the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance that makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for needs related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. It is enforced by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. Go to full article.
WLP submitted comments on January 22 on the proposed amendments to the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules as they relate to second-parent adoptions. Historically, WLP has played a pivotal part in advocating for and litigating second-parent adoption rights in Pennsylvania, including our key role in In re R.B.F., 803 A.2d 1195 (Pa. 2002). Accordingly, we have a longstanding interest in ensuring that the benefits of adoption are equally available to the children of same-sex couples as to the children of opposite-sex couples. See WLP Comments
Press Release: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia—Attorneys from the Women’s Law Project announced that, starting January 16, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Education will publicly post on its website the first completed athletic equity reports submitted in the fall of 2013 by public high schools, junior highs, and middle schools. The Department’s website can be found at http://www.pde.state.pa.us. These reports, required by the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act, provide a snapshot of how school athletic programs treat female athletes by revealing the number of athletic opportunities available to girls and expenditures on school sports by team. See full press release.
The Women’s Law Project submitted comments on January 13th, to Beverly Mackereth, Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare, on the proposed Healthy Pennsylvania 1115 Demonstration Application (“Healthy Pennsylvania proposal”). WLP strongly urged the Governor to accept the federal government’s offer of expanding Medicaid as soon as possible – consistent with the Affordable Care Act and without pursuing approval of the Healthy Pennsylvania proposal. The current Medicaid program covers a wide range of services vital to women’s health and well-being, including reproductive healthcare, preventative and screening services, family planning, and maternity care up to 60 days postpartum. We sincerely question the Commonwealth’s proposed creation of additional barriers to health care when it can simply expand the existing Medicaid program. (See more of the Comments.)
Forced to Pump in Unsanitary Conditions and Endure Harassment from Colleagues
PITTSBURGH – A Port Allegany glass factory worker asserts in a civil complaint and an EEOC charge filed today that she was discriminated against and harassed because she needed to pump breast milk at work following the birth of her child.
Bobbi Bockoras is a factory worker at the Saint Gobain Verallia glass factory. When she returned to work after the birth of her child and requested a place to pump breast milk, she was only provided with rooms that were either unsanitary or insufficiently private, and was subjected to harassment by her coworkers. After she complained, she was moved from the day shift to a rotating schedule that frequently requires her to work an overnight shift, which has disrupted her ability to breastfeed or produce enough milk for her baby. See Press Release.
The U.S. Census confirmed that the wage gap hasn’t budged – not even one penny! Women working full time are paid just 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. And the wage gap is far worse for women of color. So now what?
The Women’s Law Project has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh attorney Fred Goldsmith to challenge the refusal of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) to provide domestic partner benefits to employees with same-sex partners. (Go to Blog Post, Complaint, and Press Release)
In B.H. v. Easton Area School District, issued on August 5, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld an injunction on the school district’s ban of “I ♥ boobies” breast cancer awareness bracelets. In this precedential decision, the Court acknowledges that student speech related to political or social issues receives First Amendment protection under the United States Constitution, even if that speech contains language that some people may consider lewd. (Read full blog post.)
50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act
Fifteen national and state-based women’s rights legal organizations are marking the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 with the launch of the Equal Pay Today! Campaign. Read more about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign and what you can do.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court has affirmed that the General Assembly meant what it clearly stated when it adopted a law in 2006 requiring insurers to pay claims to innocent victims whose homes and automobiles are damaged by the intentional acts of their abusive spouses. See Opinion and more.
The Women’s Law Project started advocating to improve police response to sex crimes in 1999 when it led the reform of police practice in Philadelphia. Our newly published Policy Brief (February 2013) describes the innovative strategies we have pursued at both the local and national level. See more resources covering Rape & Sexual Assault.
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