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Sixth Circuit to Same-Sex Couples: Just Wait and See

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: November 07, 2014 at 02:33 pm

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handed down its decision in DeBoer v. Snyder, [PDF] becoming the first federal appellate court to state uphold bans on marriage between same-sex couples post-Windsor. Instead of addressing the constitutional issues, the majority focused largely on who should decide the issue, insisting that the democratic process, not the federal judiciary, was the appropriate forum through which same-sex couples should obtain their civil rights. In other words, those “laboratories of experimentation” that adopted the bans to begin with should be charged with removing them. This decision begs the question, what is the role of the courts, if not to “say what the law is”—especially when the legal questions involve individual constitutional rights of such grave importance? Nevertheless, according to the Sixth Circuit, the courts should “wait and see” what the fallout is in the states where same-sex marriage is now legal and respect the will of the voters. Sound familiar? That same argument was made, unsuccessfully, by Virginia in Loving v. Virginia, the case that overturned Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. It was an outrageous proposition then and it is today: don’t we look to courts to be counter-majoritarian? To prevent majorities from oppressing minorities?

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October’s Employment Update Shows Importance of Raising the Minimum Wage and Tipped Minimum Wage

Posted by Anne Morrison, Fellow | Posted on: November 07, 2014 at 01:17 pm

This month’s BLS data release shows continued strong job growth, with the economy adding 214,000 jobs. Women’s jobs made up 59 percent of these gains (127,000 jobs), but our analysis shows that 49 percent of new jobs overall were added in the low-wage sectors of retail, leisure & hospitality, temporary help services, home health care services, and nursing & residential care facilities. One-third of women’s total net jobs were added in the retail and leisure & hospitality sectors alone.

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Scheduling Day of Action Instructions

Posted by Gail Zuagar, Outreach Associate | Posted on: November 06, 2014 at 09:55 am

We all know about the chaos in the stores that marks Black Friday, the official start to the holiday shopping season. But did you know about the chaos that marks every day of some workers’ lives? Too many workers are getting schedules that are so unpredictable they make it impossible to plan from one day to the next. We need your help!

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Minimum Wage Increases Were Clear Winners at the Polls

Posted by Agata Pelka, Fellow | Posted on: November 05, 2014 at 11:17 am

Election Day post-mortems generally involve a lot of speculation – pundits will spend days arguing over which issues persuaded voters to choose one candidate over another. But voters issued at least one clear mandate: they overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.

Voters passed ballot measures in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota to increase their state minimum wages to $9.75 by 2016, $8.50 by 2017, $9 by 2016 and $8.50 in 2015 respectively. Alaska’s measure will adjust the minimum wage annually based on inflation or ensure it is $1 higher [PDF] than the federal minimum wage, whichever amount is greater. South Dakota’s measure also included an annual increase adjusted for the cost of living and increased the minimum cash wage for tipped workers [PDF] from the federal level of just $2.13/hour to half of the state minimum wage. Voters in Illinois affirmatively answered a non-binding question to tell their state legislators to increase the minimum wage to $10 by 2015. If the Illinois legislature acts to raise the wage in their state, yesterday’s election results mean that 680,000 workers will get a raise in those five states. Two-thirds of those workers are women and a quarter of them are raising children.

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What I Want for National Work and Family Month: Schedules that Work!

Posted by Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women | Posted on: October 31, 2014 at 01:30 pm

As we close out National Work & Family month, it’s a good time to take stock of the strides made so far this year in the fight for fair schedules for working families. July saw the introduction of the federal Schedules that Work Act which would provide workers with more predictable and stable schedules, as well as a say in when they work. San Francisco stepped up to the plate next, with the Retail Workers Bill of Rights which would ensure fair scheduling practices and stable incomes for employees in the city’s chain fast food restaurants and retail stores. And earlier this summer, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer held a public forum on workers’ need for a voice in their schedules. Not to be outdone, a state senator in Michigan just introduced a fair scheduling bill [PDF] a couple of weeks ago.

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Closing the Education Gap for Girls of Color

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: October 28, 2014 at 02:00 pm

On Tuesday, the Center for American Progress and AAUW released a new fact sheet that explores the educational achievement gap between boys and girls — particularly girls of color. The fact sheet shows that according to national assessment scores, just 15 percent of black, female eighth-graders are proficient in math, compared to 20 percent of Hispanic girls and 44 percent of white girls in the same grade. The fact sheet highlights how rigorous standards included in the Common Core State Standards can raise educational achievement and ensure all students — regardless of race, gender or background — are college-ready.

While the fact sheet focuses on educational disparities in STEM courses (i.e., science, technology, engineering and mathematics), data shows that African American girls fall below the national average for girls on almost every measure of academic achievement according to Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call for Educational Equity, a recent report from the National Women's Law Center and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

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D.C. and California Show Striking Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Gender Wage Gaps

Posted by | Posted on: October 23, 2014 at 09:59 am

We spent this morning crunching some newly released Census data on the gender wage gap in earnings for African American women and Latinas working full time, year round as compared to white, non-Hispanic men in all 50 states and D.C.  What we found is deeply troubling and makes clear that looking at the gender wage gap for women overall often hides striking inequalities.

Here are some of our key findings:

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Turning the Corner on Child Care Assistance — But Still A Long Way to Go

Posted by Karen Schulman, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: October 22, 2014 at 02:33 pm

Families in thirty-three states were better off—having greater access to child care assistance to help pay for care and/or receiving greater benefits from assistance—in February 2014 than in February 2013 under one or more key child care assistance policies, according to a new report by the National Women’s Law Center. The report, Turning the Corner: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2014, also found that families in thirteen states were worse off under one or more of these policies in February 2014 than in February 2013.

This year is the second year in a row in which the situation for families improved in more states than it worsened. And it represents a turnaround from the previous two years, when the situation worsened for families in more states than it improved. However, the improvements states made between 2013 and 2014 were generally modest and families still lack the help they need to afford reliable, good-quality care.

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