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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

NWLC Releases New Report! Reality Check: Seventeen Million Reasons Low-Wage Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment

Did you know that a narrowly divided 5 to 4 Supreme Court recently watered down protections for victims of workplace harassment? More than 15 years ago, the Supreme Court recognized the potential for supervisors to abuse their power over their subordinates and employers’ responsibility to prevent that abuse. And the Court put in place strong protections from harassment by a supervisor. But the Court’s recent decision in Vance v. Ball State University [PDF] rolled back those protections by including within their reach only supervisors with the power to take actions like hiring and firing. The Vance decision said that supervisors who direct daily work are now mere coworkers in the eyes of the law, and must bring their cases under the much more difficult standard that applies to coworker harassment claims. Now workers will have a much harder time holding their employers accountable for harassment committed by lower-level supervisors who assign tasks, set schedules, and control other aspects of their day-to-day work. As Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent, the decision was “blind to the realities of the workplace.”

Reality Check: Seventeen Million Reasons Low-Wage Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment, released today by NWLC, highlights three particularly important workplace realities:

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The Senate Can Still Do the Right Thing and Confirm Debo Adegbile

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: March 05, 2014 at 07:47 pm

Today the Senate had the opportunity to move forward to confirm Debo Adegbile as the next head of the Civil Rights Division at DOJ. We’ve blogged about the many ways in which Mr. Adegbile was an ideal candidate to lead the Division at this time. 

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President Obama's Budget Expands Investments in Infrastructure and Manufacturing - But Women Are Falling Behind

The President’s budget proposes billions for infrastructure and manufacturing – critical job investments for both women and men. For this investment to pay off for working families, we need to prioritize programs that move women into nontraditional, higher paying jobs. Yet the budget simultaneously eliminates the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) program.

WANTO supports community-based organizations that provide training to women in pre-apprenticeship programs and technical assistance to employers and labor unions. WANTO promotes nontraditional occupations for women and provides support for women’s success in the trades. Eliminating WANTO may slow women’s entrance into traditionally male-dominated fields, and leaves vulnerable the organizations who received support through WANTO for almost a decade. Women are already losing traction in these fields, accounting for just 10 percent of the gains in the 272,000 jobs added in the construction and manufacturing industries in the last year, despite comprising 22 percent of these industries.

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Equal Pay Front and Center in New Hampshire

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: January 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Women working full-time year-round in New Hampshire still typically earn only about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men – and women of color fare worse. Looks like New Hampshire might do something about it. Today the New Hampshire House is holding a hearing on a bill that would ban retaliation against workers who talk about their wages. (The Senate bill gets a hearing on Thursday). If this bill passes, the Granite state would join states like Vermont, New Jersey, and New Mexico that have recently improved their equal pay laws along with states like Illinois, Colorado, California and Michigan that have long banned penalties for against workers who are trying to gather enough information to challenge their unfair pay. 

Pay secrecy policies can keep women in the dark about their pay, making pay discrimination nearly impossible to detect. Ask Lilly Ledbetter – she worked at a Goodyear plant making less than all of the other male managers for almost 20 years without knowing she was paid less. Goodyear's gag rule supported the discrimination. 

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Hanna Rosin Says The Wage Gap Is A Lie. That’s Just Plain Wrong.

Each September the U.S. Census Bureau puts out information on the annual earnings of male and female workers. We’ll soon know the numbers for 2012, but we already know that in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, women working full time, year round were typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts – a loss of $11,084 in 2011.

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