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Womenstake, NWLC's Blog

Five Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

Posted by | Posted on: September 04, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Did you know that in most states, when you tip your waitress, you’re actually paying her wages?

That’s because the federal minimum wage law allows employers of tipped workers to pay them as little as $2.13 per hour (the “tipped minimum cash wage”), and count your tips to fulfill their obligation to pay their workers the minimum wage. While employers are legally required to make up the difference between $2.13 and the regular minimum wage if tips fall short, studies show [PDF] that all too often employers don’t do this. This is particularly a problem for women, who are two-thirds of tipped workers.

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Living "Mad Men": A Woman at Work in the 1950s

Posted by Mia Jacobs, Program Assistant | Posted on: September 04, 2014 at 09:28 am

I have a pretty cool grandmother. She is more current on culture than almost anyone I know, seeing every new film release before I have, always having an opinion on every political event as it happens. When Mad Men premiered in 2007 to widespread critical acclaim, I naturally asked my grandmother if she was watching. Her response: “I don’t need to watch it. I lived it.”

September 7 is National Grandparent’s Day, and thanks to the American Grandparents Association and the National Women’s Law Center, I was given the special opportunity to interview my grandmother about what it was like to be a working woman in America in the 1950s — what it truly meant to “live” Mad Men.

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Alumni of George Washington University: Our Former President Thinks Women Are Asking For It

Posted by Megan Tackney, Outreach Manager for Health and Reproductive Rights | Posted on: September 03, 2014 at 10:01 am

“One of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much. And there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children on that — in that regard.”

That’s right folks — that’s former GW President and current professor, Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, talking on the Diane Rhem show last week about the issue of fraternities’ participation in sexual misconduct. The person who was once in charge of approximately 25,000 students — a good number of whom we can safely assume are women — has just confidently stated that at the heart of the campus sexual assault problem are women who drink too much. Think I’m oversimplifying things? Go ahead — check the transcript. When asked the question, he says nothing to address the actual rapists and instead, quite unoriginally, blames women (or ahem children) who are raped.

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What Would Make Labor Day So Much Better? Schedules That Work!

Melody Pabon and her four-year-old son MasonLabor Day memorializes laborers’ courageous fights throughout our nation’s history for fair working conditions, starting with battles over long hours, low pay, child labor, and unsafe working conditions in the 1800s and 1900s that led to major advances in all of these areas.

And today, workers are still on the frontlines – fighting for livable wages and for an end to abusive scheduling practices, which are increasingly common in the American workplace. All too often, employers require that workers have completely open availability to be eligible for full-time hours, and cancel and assign shifts at the very last minute. Too many part-time workers simply cannot get enough hours at their jobs to make ends meet.

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Closing the Wage Gap at Gap

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: August 28, 2014 at 02:17 pm

Equal pay is achievable – just ask Gap Inc. Earlier this week the company announced that that it is paying men and women equally for work on the same jobs. It worked with a consulting firm to evaluate its pay practices and confirm pay parity between the sexes. The company also revealed that it is ahead of the curve in terms of its numbers of women in leadership positions.

Gap’s success in maintaining equal pay is all the more striking when you consider that women working in the retail sector as a whole experienced a 32 cent wage gap compared to their male counterparts in 2011. This gap for the retail sector is much larger than the overall wage gap between men and women.

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Illinois Commits to Protect Pregnant Workers

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: August 26, 2014 at 10:19 am

Bene’t Holmes, a 25-year-old single mother of a five-year-old son, worked at Walmart in Chicago when she became pregnant last year. Holmes describes having trouble lifting 50-pound boxes on the job when she was four months pregnant. Walmart’s written policy at the time was to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities and on-the-job injuries, but not for pregnancy. Holmes knew that her work was putting excessive strain on her body, and her doctor said she needed temporary job duties that would be less physically strenuous. But according to Holmes, a store manager denied her request, explaining that when she took her job, she was expected to lift 50 pounds. The day after her request was denied, Holmes had a miscarriage while at work at Walmart.

Unfortunately, Holmes’ story is not unique. Today, more women are in the workforce than ever before and are working later into their pregnancies. While most women continue working throughout their pregnancies with no need for changes in their jobs, some—particularly those in physically demanding jobs—will need temporary adjustments to continue working safely. Frequently these women need only a simple accommodation—like avoiding heavy lifting for a few months, being permitted to sit occasionally during a long workday, or staying off high ladders.

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Instability at Work Wreaks Havoc on Moms and Children

Posted by Holly Flynn, Intern | Posted on: August 15, 2014 at 04:27 pm

Have you ever heard of “clopening?” It’s when a worker has to close up the shop, store, or restaurant where they work late at night and then report for an early-morning shift just a few hours later. Stressful scheduling like clopening frequently occurs when employers use scheduling software designed to maximize profits—often at the expense of working mothers and their children. This week, the New York Times featured a front-page profile of Jannette Navarro, a mom who works as a barista at a Starbucks in New York City. Jannette’s story shows how the scheduling practices of major chains are unsustainable for moms who need child care, as well as highly detrimental to their children, who bear the brunt of a lack of stability.

The challenges for Jannette Navarro and many women like her begin with the scheduling software many companies use to determine employees’ shifts based on how much business they anticipate. This software enables companies to increase their profits by reducing labor costs, but it works, as the New York Times calls it, by “redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families.” Jannette typically received her always-changing schedule just three days in advance, leaving very little time to arrange child care for her 4-year-old son, Gavin. While Gavin could attend a preschool program during the day, shifts early in the morning or later in the evening forced Jannette to scramble to get a friend or relative to take care of him—and Gavin’s child center is not open on weekends. Furthermore, Jannette worried about losing access to child care because of her work schedule, since Gavin’s eligibility depended on her working a minimum number of hours, and she was always at risk of not getting enough.

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