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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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Women in Low-Wage Jobs Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work

Posted by Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women | Posted on: April 08, 2014 at 10:22 am

It should be startling that even in the ten largest jobs that pay very low wages –$10.10 an hour or less – women still see a 10 cent gender wage gap on the dollar.* And this is despite the fact that women make up more than three-quarters of the workers in these jobs.

Across the income spectrum, the wage gap hurts women and families. But women in low-wage jobs can least afford it. They are already making do with less. They shouldn’t have to make do with pay discrimination too.

Mothers with children under 18 make up nearly one-quarter of these workers, although they make up just over 16 percent of workers overall.  In 2011, 40 percent of households with children under 18 had a mother as the primary breadwinner—and two-thirds of those households were led by single mothers with a median family income of just $23,000.  These hardworking breadwinner moms and their families deserve equal pay for equal work.

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Welcome to the Wage Gap Cafe

Posted by Becka Wall, Program Assistant | Posted on: April 08, 2014 at 10:04 am

On average, women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make. That amounts to $11,000 per year in lost wages  – no small chunk of change.  For many women, this means sometimes having to choose between buying enough groceries and going to the doctor or between paying this month's rent and that college loan. Some have a harder time getting the picture, so I’m going break it down for those of you who can’t quite visualize the difference 23 cents makes.

What if you went into a restaurant and someone took a few bites out of whatever deliciousness you ordered – and they ate about 23% of it. You would get pretty mad, right?

Imagine if someone just took a chunk out of your…

Pizza: Oh, I’m sorry – I didn’t see your female parts there. This is the “woman sized” slice of pizza. After all – you don’t need a whole slice, do you? That would just be greedy.

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