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During Equal Pay Week, Minnesota House of Representatives Takes Bipartisan Action to Promote Women's Economic Security

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: April 10, 2014 at 03:46 pm

Yesterday, in a bipartisan vote of 106-24, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Women’s Economic Security Act. This comprehensive bill includes a range of important reforms to promote workplace equality for the state’s women, and enhance economic security for them and their families, such as:

  • Enabling women to learn if they are experiencing pay discrimination without fear of retaliation;
  • Ensuring that businesses that contract with the state government comply with equal pay standards;
  • Promoting women’s access to high-wage, high-demand jobs and the development of women-owned businesses;
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You're Worth It

Posted by Gail Zuagar, Outreach Associate | Posted on: April 10, 2014 at 01:10 pm

Yesterday, with 53 votes for and 44 votes against, the Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked from moving forward in the Senate. This is the bill that would deter wage discrimination by updating the nearly 50-year-old Equal Pay Act, in part by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to coworkers. It's ridiculous, but no federal law provides effective protection to employees ensuring they won’t be penalized or even fired just for talking about their salaries.

But while we continue the fight legislatively, women can do something to help boost their earning potential right now—speak up, ask for more money, negotiate your salary! While it’s crucial, it’s often much easier said than done, especially for women.

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Senate Votes to Move Forward on Nomination of Michelle Friedland

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: April 10, 2014 at 01:01 pm

This morning, the Senate voted to allow a confirmation vote on the nomination of Michelle Friedland to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 56-41. The vote was bipartisan, with Senators Collins and Murkowski supporting the decision to move forward on the nomination.

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New Legislation Aims to Stop Harassment Before It Starts

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: April 10, 2014 at 09:35 am

On Monday, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier introduced a bill that would require all members of the U.S House of Representatives to complete mandatory sexual harassment training. The training would include “practical examples aimed at prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation presented by expert trainers.”

This is a commonsense solution to an all-too-common problem. Employers have a legal obligation to prevent and remedy harassment, and it makes good business sense. Yet 25 percent of women and 10 percent of men still report harassment in the workplace today.

All employers—including the House—should adopt policies that explain what sexual harassment is, and make it unmistakably clear that it is prohibited in the workplace. A policy should also set out a procedure for filing and investigating complaints. Then, employers should train employees, supervisors, and managers not to harass and what to do if harassment occurs.

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2 out of 19?! Paid Tax Preparers Receive a Failing Grade

Posted by Susanna Birdsong, Fellow | Posted on: April 09, 2014 at 03:56 pm

2 out of 19.  According to a new report from the GAO, 2 out of 19 is the number of randomly selected paid tax preparers who calculated the correct refund amount on tax returns.  That means that fully 89% of the time, tax returns prepared by paid preparers are incorrect—ultimately putting the individuals and families who file them at risk of paying penalties or even facing criminal sanctions

This is an especially serious problem for low-income families, the majority of whom rely on paid tax preparers to help them file their taxes.  In 2011, 60% of EITC recipients—or 16 million families—relied on a paid tax preparer to help them with their taxes.  These are families whose tax refunds provide an infusion of cash that helps them pay down debt, cover major expenses like car repairs, and otherwise make up for all those other months when—no matter how many corners they cut—ends just don’t quite meet. 

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Listen Up: States Continue to Pave the Way on Minimum Wage Hikes

Posted by Emily Wales, Fellow | Posted on: April 09, 2014 at 03:05 pm

 With public polling showing remarkably strong support for increasing the minimum wage, legislators around the country are pushing to raise the wage – and they’re making it happen. We’re only nine days into April, and already, this month is one for the history books. Here are some highlights of what’s happening in the states:

  • Just last week, West Virginia’s governor signed into law a bill that will boost wages for 120,000 West Virginians. The minimum wage is now set to rise from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016. Women make up about two-thirds [PDF] of the state’s minimum wage workers.
  • On Monday, Maryland’s legislature sent a bill to the governor to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2018, making the Free State only the second state to set the $10.10 figure called for in the pending federal Fair Minimum Wage Act. (Connecticut beat Maryland to become the first state with a $10.10 minimum wage last month.) Gov. Martin O’Malley has announced he’ll sign the bill, and for the state’s minimum wage workers – more than six in ten of whom are women – an increase can’t come soon enough. 
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Initial Vote Scheduled on Michelle Friedland, Nominated to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: April 09, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Last night, Senate Majority Leader Reid began the process to hold a vote on the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Friedland, an experienced appellate litigator who is a partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, is extremely well-qualified to serve on this important court. She graduated from Stanford University with distinction, studied at Oxford University as a Fulbright scholar, and was ranked second in her graduating class at Stanford Law School. After receiving her law degree, she clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and then for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the United States Supreme Court. Following her clerkships, she was a lecturer at Stanford Law School, teaching courses on federal jurisdiction and environmental law, before joining her law firm. She has also served as an adjunct law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. In addition to her exceptional legal credentials and experience, Ms. Friedland has been recognized for her thousands of hours of pro bono service, including representing same-sex couples in the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 before the California Supreme Court. She also serves as a member of the Board of the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services, a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds to provide free legal services for low-income individuals.

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Today Isn't Equal Pay Day for All Women

Posted by | Posted on: April 08, 2014 at 10:29 am

Today is finally Equal Pay Day– the day women have to work into 2014 (in addition to everything they earned in 2013) to earn what men made in 2013. While hardly cause for celebration, at least we finally got there, right?

Not so fast. While women overall reach Equal Pay Day in April, women of color still have a long way to go. That's because the wage gaps for women of color are substantially wider than for women overall: women overall working full time, year round typically make only 77 percent of what their male counterparts make – for African-American women compared to white, non-Hispanic men this figure is 64 cents – and for Hispanic women it's only 54 cents.

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