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Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow

Elizabeth Johnston is a Skadden Fellow on the Education & Employment team, as well as the Cross-Cutting Initiatives team at the National Women's Law Center. Prior to joining the Center, Elizabeth was a law clerk for the Honorable Anthony J. Trenga (EDVA) and the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey (6th Circuit). She received a law degree from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelors in History and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. She is fluent in Spanish. 

My Take

Argument Recap: Do Same-Sex Marriage Bans Discriminate on the Basis of Sex?

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: April 29, 2015 at 03:24 pm

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in four consolidated cases, which present the question of whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize those marriages performed in other states where they are legal. The National Women’s Law Center, along with women’s legal organizations and legal scholars, submitted a brief [PDF] arguing that state same-sex marriage bans must be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution, just as are other laws that discriminate on the basis of sex. And from the arguments, it seems like at least some of the Justices read it.

During the argument, Ruth Bader Ginsburg touched on the significance of gender stereotyping in the context of the now-abandoned “meaning” of marriage.  As Justices Roberts and Kennedy pondered whether the court had a right to challenge a definition of marriage that had existed for “millennia”, [PDF] Justice Ginsburg quickly pointed out that marriage today is very different than it was under the common law, reminding them: “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female… Would that be a choice that states should still be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?”

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NWLC Testifies on the Need for Adequate Funding for Implementation of D.C.’s Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Yesterday, Elizabeth Johnston from the National Women’s Law Center testified before the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on Bus­iness, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in support of adequate funding to implement the Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was enacted last year. The new law ensures that pregnant workers in D.C. may no longer be forced to choose between their health and their jobs. It does so by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers who need them to continue safely working during pregnancy, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. However, the promise of this law can only be fully realized with sufficient funding for public education, outreach and enforcement.

While the vast majority of women can work throughout their pregnancies without needing any adjustments to their work rules or job duties, at some point during pregnancy some workers may have a need for temporary adjustments to their job duties that will allow them to continue working safely and supporting their growing families. The new law ensures that employers provide the same rights and reasonable accommodations for pregnant women as are available to workers with temporary disabilities or injuries. 

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Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument in Marriage Equality Cases

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: April 28, 2015 at 09:38 am

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges and three consolidated cases. The outcome will determine whether states can refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry or refuse to recognize their marriages. Stereotypes about women and men and the roles they should play in marriage have no place in law. The Supreme Court has long recognized that the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of discrimination; now, it must recognize that the Constitution prohibits sexual orientation discrimination on this basis.

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New Fact Sheet Outlines the Latest Legislative Developments in the Movement for Fair Work Schedules

There is a growing movement across our nation for fair work schedules. This movement is spurred by women like Hilaria Bonilla, a single mother, who testified in a hearing on Maryland’s fair work schedules bill [PDF] about the consequences to her family of an extremely difficult work schedule. She has worked for her employer for more than a decade and earns only $11 per hour. Getting only one week’s notice of her schedule makes it extremely difficult for Ms. Bonilla to be involved in her 10 year old daughter’s school or to make doctor’s appointments for herself or her daughter. Despite having asked not to work nights, she is routinely assigned to the night shift. Ms. Bonilla testified that having more notice and more of a say in when she works would make all the difference to her ability to care for her daughter.

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NWLC Files Amicus Brief in Support of Marriage Equality

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston, Fellow | Posted on: March 06, 2015 at 03:30 pm

On Thursday, the National Women’s Law Center, along with several women’s organizations and legal scholars, filed an amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges and consolidated cases. The brief argues that laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, such as the marriage bans at issue in these cases, must be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee, like laws that discriminate on the basis of sex or race. Such laws rely on outdated, stereotyped gender roles and the Constitution provides strong protection against government efforts to perpetuate them. 

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