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Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel

Emily Martin

Emily Martin is Vice President and General Counsel at the National Women's Law Center, where she undertakes cross-cutting projects addressing women's health, economic security, and education and employment opportunities. She also provides in-house legal advice and representation to the Center. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Martin served as Deputy Director of the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she spearheaded litigation, policy, and public education initiatives to advance the rights of women and girls, with a particular emphasis on the needs of low-income women and women of color. She also served as a law clerk for Senior Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Judge T.S. Ellis, III, of the Eastern District of Virginia and previously worked for the Center as a recipient of the Georgetown Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship. She has served as Vice President and President of the Fair Housing Justice Center, a non-profit organization in New York City. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Yale Law School.

My Take

It’s Nearly Unanimous: Pregnant Workers Deserve Fair Treatment

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: March 07, 2014 at 07:01 pm

What do West Virginia and New York City have in common? As someone who spent many years living in each place, I can assure you that the answer is not that much.

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The Tenth Circuit Should Join the Unanimous Trend Towards Marriage Equality

Posted by | Posted on: March 06, 2014 at 11:59 am

Last year, the decision in United States v. Windsor represented a huge victory for marriage equality, as the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court ducked the question posed by a companion case of whether a state ban on marriage between same-sex couples violated the Fourteenth Amendment, since Windsor the trend in lower courts has been unanimous: so far, 18 decisions have found these bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is now poised to address the question in Kitchen v. Herbert and Bishop v. Smith, two cases which arise out of bans on marriage between same-sex couples in Utah and Oklahoma, which lower courts struck down.


Saying Good-Bye to Shirley

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: February 11, 2014 at 05:27 pm

When I heard the news of Shirley Temple’s death this morning, I wondered how I will tell my six-year-old daughter, Stella. Stella has a deep love for all things Shirley Temple, and has come by it naturally. The Shirley Temple paper dolls she plays with are exact reproductions of the originals that my grandma played with and lovingly handed down to my mother and then to me. Stella is the fourth generation in my family to be captivated by the movies Curly Top and Bright Eyes. My grandma never got to meet Stella, but Stella goes to sleep with a Shirley Temple doll not so different from the one my grandma had.


Pregnant Worker Seeks Justice in Court

Posted by | Posted on: December 16, 2013 at 02:02 pm

Asia Myers’ story is all too common. After suffering a threatened miscarriage, Asia brought her employer a doctor’s note with a lifting and pushing restriction. If Asia had been injured at her job, as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Hope Healthcare Center in Michigan, or if she had a medical condition other than pregnancy, this would have been no problem. With a doctor’s note, these other categories of employees were routinely given light duty assignments such as hair and nail care for residents, shaving residents, paperwork, feeding residents, and performing showering tasks that don’t require lifting.

But Asia was pregnant and Hope Healthcare Center maintains a discriminatory policy that denies pregnant employees reasonable accommodations that it permits for non-pregnant employees with similar restrictions. So when Asia asked for light duty, she was refused. Hope Healthcare Center forced Asia to choose between a steady paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. When she chose her pregnancy she was required to take unpaid leave. She lost her health benefits and struggled to make ends meet at a time when she most needed healthcare and a steady paycheck.

Luckily, the National Women’s Law Center helped connect Asia with the ACLU, and last week, the ACLU filed a complaint in federal district court in Michigan on Asia’s behalf.


The Pregnancy Discrimination Act at 35: The Need to Restore and Reinvigorate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Posted by | Posted on: November 01, 2013 at 09:25 am

This blog post originally appeared on ACSBlog.

Thirty-five years ago, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) was signed into law, remedying the Supreme Court’s 1976 decision in General Electric Company v. Gilbert holding that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy was not sex discrimination, but rather discrimination between pregnant and non-pregnant persons. Congress acted quickly to rebuke this analysis by passing the PDA, which recognizes what is obvious to most--that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex. The PDA also makes clear that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions must be treated at least as well as other employees “not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” As a result of the PDA, once common policies such as forcing pregnant women off the job regardless of their ability to work are no longer permissible.

Yet, pregnancy discrimination still persists more than a generation after the PDA’s passage. This is in part because stereotypes about pregnant women persist in the workplace, despite the law’s protection. But, even more troublingly, pregnancy discrimination also persists because some courts have read the language of the PDA narrowly, ignoring both its plain language and its intent and limiting its protections for pregnant workers.