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Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment

Fatima Goss Graves is Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women's Law Center, where she works to promote the rights of women and girls at school and in the workplace. Ms. Goss Graves advocates and litigates core legal and policy issues relating to at-risk girls in school, including those that impact pregnant and parenting students, students in a hostile school climate and students participating in athletics. She further works to advance equal pay for equal work, expand opportunities for women in nontraditional fields, and ensure the development of fundamental legal principles of equal opportunity. She uses a number of advocacy strategies in her work on these issues ranging from public education and legislative advocacy to litigation, including briefs in the Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals. Prior to joining the Center, she worked as an appellate and trial litigator at Mayer Brown LLP. She began her career as a law clerk for the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Ms. Goss Graves is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and Yale Law School.

My Take

Black Women and Unequal Pay: A Deep Ditch That Drives Poverty

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: July 28, 2015 at 02:27 pm

Evelyn Coke worked for more than 20 years in Queens, New York caring for elderly men and women in their homes. Every day she bathed, dressed and fed them. She cooked and cleaned their homes. Ms. Coke, who is African American, often worked more than 70 hours a week at $7 per hour. And during all those years she never received overtime pay. She knew this wasn't right. So she challenged her unfair pay all the way to the Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in 2007 that she was not entitled to overtime.

Ms. Coke's story is not an anomaly. Domestic workers are still treated unequally under the law and their pay does not match their important role. The imbalance between the care we expect and what we pay for it is a part of slavery's entrenched imprint on our labor laws. Many of the labor protections of the New Deal era of the 1930s — legislation initiated by President Roosevelt to pull the country out of the Great Depression — did not extend to domestic workers or agricultural workers, most of whom were black at the time. Recently, the Department of Labor released a new rule that would give millions of homecare workers federal wage and overtime protections. Legal challenges are unfortunately slowing down the implementation of this rule.

It cannot come soon enough.


We Can't Wait Until Beyonce is Almost 80 for the Wage Gap to Close

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: April 14, 2015 at 11:14 am

Originally posted on Higher Heights for America's website.

It’s Equal Pay Day, April 14th. Equal Pay Day is the symbolic date that marks the time in the year when the wages of women who work full time, year round finally catch up to the wages of men. The date is pegged to the overall wage gap for women—when the wages for all men and women are compared, women make just 78 cents on the dollar.

That overall statistic masks even larger disparities for women of color. African American women are paid a whopping 64 percent of the salaries paid to their white, male counterparts. This pay gap, which amounts to a loss of $18,650 a year, means that African American women have to work nearly 19 more months—almost until the end of July—just to make as much as white, non-Hispanic men did in the previous year alone. 

Here are five more facts about the wage gap that are equally stunning:


Five Steps to Enhance Economic Security for LGBT Women

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: March 13, 2015 at 10:39 am

Families are depending on the wages of women more than ever before. You’ve heard some of these stats before but they bear repeating: Women are breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families and continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of caregiving responsibilities. Yet, women who work full-time, year-round, are paid only 78 cents on the dollarcompared to full-time working men. When the full-time wages of women of color are compared to white men, the disparity is even greater.  And our nation’s public policies and workplace practices are too often based on outdated assumptions about our workforce and the supports necessary to make sure families are economically secure. 

At bottom, these economic concerns are distressing for all women and their families, but too little attention has been placed on the ways in which economic challenges play out for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) women. This is why we are pleased to partner with the Movement Advancement Project, Center for American Progress and a wide range of organizations on a new report that documents the range of economic barriers experienced by LGBT women, and provides concrete proposals to change the cultural and legal framework that undermine their economic security.


NWLC Applauds Confirmation of Charlotte Burrows and David Lopez to the EEOC

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: December 03, 2014 at 04:29 pm

Today, the Senate confirmed Charlotte Burrows to be a Commissioner on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and David Lopez to be General Counsel of the EEOC. Now-Commissioner Burrows served most recently in the Department of Justice, and previously, as counsel to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Mr. Lopez was renominated to the General Counsel position, in which he has served with distinction since 2010.


A Call to Action to Support African American Girls

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: September 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

The headlines are sometimes shocking: A 7 year old African American girl sent home from her charter school and told by school officials that her hairstyle was not "presentable" and violated the dress code, which termed "dreadlocks" and "afros" to be "faddish" and "unacceptable." A 16-year-old African American female student in Richmond, CA, brutally raped and assaulted in the campus courtyard during her school's homecoming dance. An African American student parent, who took a full load of Advanced Placement courses her senior year and finished at the top of her class, forced to share her "valedictorian" title because she was deemed "a big mess" by the principal. These are the types of stories that make my heart hurt — for those girls and for their families, but also for the many girls whose stories are never told. And these are the types of stories that drove the National Women's Law Center to partner with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund on a report that fills an important gap in existing data on educational opportunity for African American girls.

Today we released Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity. Unlocking Opportunity shines a light on the prevalence of race and gender stereotypes and other barriers that adversely impact the educational experiences of African American girls. And it highlights critical data about the education and economic outcomes that result.

We wrote this report to examine the many hurdles faced by African American girls and boys — such as the under-resourcing of schools — and to emphasize those that have a distinct impact on African American girls due to the intersection of gender and race stereotypes, such as disproportionate and overly harsh disciplinary practices that exclude them from school for minor and subjective infractions such as dress code violations (yes, some schools really make students miss out on learning time for subjective dress code and hair "infractions"); pervasive sexual harassment and violence; discrimination against pregnant and parenting students; and limited access to athletics and other extracurricular activities.