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The courts have protected students from sexual harassment in school, established the right to use contraceptives, helped women make inroads in police and fire departments around the country, enforced women's right to equal pay, and found that the Constitution guarantees equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. The robustness of these key legal protections in future years will turn on the balance of power on the federal courts.

Highlights

Legal Briefs & Testimony | NWLC Brief on Behalf of 123 Members of Congress in Young v. UPS Pregnancy Discrimination Case

September 12, 2014

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) requires employers to treat pregnant workers the same as they treat those who are “similar in ability or inability to work.” At issue in  the Supreme Court case Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. is whether an employer who accommodates the medical needs of employees (as is often required by virtue of the Americans with Disabilities Act, for example) must extend the same type of accommodations to pregnant workers with medical needs.

Too many employers still deny pregnant women basic accommodations that would allow them to continue working and the courts have ignored the clear language and intent of the PDA in allowing this to continue. As a result, pregnant women are forced to choose between their jobs and their health. This amicus brief, filed on behalf of 123 Members of Congress, analyzes the plain language of the PDA and sets out Congress’s desire to ensure fair and equal treatment of pregnant workers through passage of the PDA.

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Legal Briefs & Testimony | NWLC Supreme Court Amicus Brief Supporting the Contraceptive Coverage Benefit

January 28, 2014

The National Women’s Law Center brief, joined by 68 other organizations,  focuses on the rights of the women who would be harmed by for-profit companies refusing to provide coverage of birth control without cost-sharing as guaranteed under the contraception regulations.  It analyzes how the contraception regulations further the government’s compelling interests in women’s health and gender equality.  More specifically, it explains how providing access to the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods without cost-sharing reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy, thereby forwarding the health of women and children; promotes equal access to health care for women; and leads to greater social and economic opportunities for women.  The brief emphasizes that the rights and interests of the women covered by the companies’ health plans weigh heavily against the companies’ RFRA claims and that the Supreme Court has never held that religious exercise provides a license to harm others or violate the rights of third parties as the companies seek to in these cases.   

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Fact Sheet | Supreme Court Preview: 2013-2014 Term

October 2, 2013
During the 2013-2014 Term, the Supreme Court will review several cases that concern legal rights of importance to women—including access to abortion, equal opportunity in education, protection against housing discrimination, and the ability to use the Equal Protection Clause to challenge discrimination in public employment. In addition, the Court will review an important case involving the President’s ability to fill vacancies on a body that protects workers. Finally, the Court may decide whether for-profit businesses can refuse to provide employee insurance coverage for contraceptives based on asserted religious objections. The decisions in these cases may have a significant impact on women’s rights in all of these important arenas.
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Fact Sheet | Supreme Court Review: 2012-2013 Term

July 10, 2013

The 2012-2013 Supreme Court Term witnessed a number of blockbuster cases affecting women’s rights, from affirmative action to workplace protections to voting rights to marriage equality. The results in those cases were decidedly mixed, with some historic victories, but also, unfortunately, heartbreaking setbacks. The National Women’s Law Center participated in most of these cases. This fact sheet explains key cases and the potential impacts of their decisions.

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More Resources

Fact Sheet | Women’s Rights at Stake: Why Federal Courts Matter to Women

September 29, 2014

Legal Briefs & Testimony | NWLC Files 5th Circuit Brief In Support of Marriage Equality

September 26, 2014

Legal Briefs & Testimony | NWLC Brief on Behalf of 123 Members of Congress in Young v. UPS Pregnancy Discrimination Case

September 12, 2014

Legal Briefs & Testimony | NWLC Files 7th Circuit Brief in Support of Marriage Equality

August 05, 2014

Legal Briefs & Testimony | NWLC Files 4th Circuit Amicus Brief in Support of Marriage Equality

July 16, 2014