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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

Pregnant Workers Need More Than Lip Service

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: March 30, 2015 at 02:11 pm

First the good news: last Thursday night the Senate unanimously voted for providing pregnant workers with a right to workplace accommodations. Now the bad news: the measure is nonbinding and purely symbolic — unless the Senators who voted for it are held accountable for supporting the real thing.

The budget amendment, introduced by Senator Casey, Senator Shaheen, and Senator Murray, was the first opportunity for Senators to vote on accommodations for pregnant workers. And it was a big hit! Unanimous votes are not so typical in the Senate these days, even for nonbinding measures. In some ways, though, unanimous support for the measure isn't so surprising. After all, West Virginia, Illinois, and Delaware all unanimously passed bills requiring reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers in 2014, as did Philadelphia, D.C., Providence, and (the year before) New York City. Only one legislator voted against New Jersey's 2014 pregnancy accommodations law.

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Pregnant Workers Look to Congress to Strengthen Supreme Court Win

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: March 27, 2015 at 05:27 pm

Cross-posted from ACSLaw's blog

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court delivered an important victory for pregnant workers [PDF] when in a 6-3 ruling it revived Peggy Young’s pregnancy discrimination case against UPS and sent it back to the lower courts for further proceedings. In so ruling, the Supreme Court declined UPS’s invitation to read a key piece of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act completely out of the statute books. This decision should put employers on notice that when they exclude pregnant workers with medical needs from accommodations that they make for workers with disabilities or injuries, they do so at their legal peril. Nevertheless, the Court’s decision also requires a somewhat unpredictable and fact-intensive analysis of these sorts of pregnancy discrimination claims. As a result, individual pregnant women may still face real uncertainty as to their workplace rights, and individual employers may choose to take their chances in litigation rather than promptly providing accommodations to women who need them. Congress should act now to affirm and strengthen this decision, to ensure that no pregnant woman is forced to choose between her job and the health of her pregnancy.

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Is This Supreme Court Harmful to Women’s Health? Young v. UPS Will Tell

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: December 02, 2014 at 11:39 am

Cross-posted from the American Constitution Society's blog.

“Come back when you’re not pregnant.” That’s what Peggy Young testifies her supervisor told her after her medical provider advised that she avoid lifting more than 20 pounds for the remainder of her pregnancy. Young, a UPS driver from Landover, Maryland, was forced out onto unpaid leave without company health benefits. On December 3, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in her pregnancy discrimination case, Young v. UPS. The case marks the first time the Court will hear a case critical to both women’s health and economic security since the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision in June, when five Justices held that Hobby Lobby and other companies could ignore the legal requirement that they include coverage of birth control in their health insurance plans if they had religious objections to contraception. The Young case will be an important test of whether a majority of the Supreme Court continues to have a “blind spot” where women’s issues are concerned. The stakes are high for women and their families.

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Decision Not to Take Up Cases Allows Marriage Equality to Stand in States Across the Country

Posted by | Posted on: October 06, 2014 at 02:25 pm

This morning, the Court denied review in all seven of the cases it had been asked to take up involving state bans on marriage between same-sex couples. This means that the lower-court decisions striking down marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin are final and will go into effect immediately. These decisions also are good news for same-sex couples seeking to marry in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming, as district courts in these states are bound by the Fourth,Seventh and Tenth Circuit court decisions that were presented for Supreme Court review. As a result, same-sex couples will be able to get married in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

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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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