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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

This 50th Anniversary I’m Ready to Work

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: August 28, 2013 at 01:08 pm

This afternoon I’m headed to the Lincoln Memorial for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. Today’s event is both a commemoration and call to action. Thousands are gathering to remember the 1963 March and to outline the remaining civil rights agenda.

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Dear Colleges and Universities, Fisher v. UT Austin Did Not Eliminate Affirmative Action

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: June 25, 2013 at 04:00 pm

The best thing about the last week of the Supreme Court's term is that the waiting ends and we can move from predictions (gloomy or otherwise) to analysis.

Here's the bottomline from the much anticipated Fisher v. UT Austin decision — affirmative action in higher education can and should continue (please see our amicus brief for a whole host of reasons why). This is one of those decisions that deserves a close read — I've now done so and have included five key points from the decision that should not go unnoticed. 

  1. Grutter was not overturned. In fact, the Supreme Court followed the decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, that an admissions policy that carefully considers racial and ethnic diversity as one of many factors is constitutional. 
  2. The Court acknowledged the importance of diversity to institutions of higher education. The Court reiterated that it defers to a university's judgment that such diversity is essential to the educational mission. As the Court explained, a diverse student body "serves values beyond race alone, including enhanced classroom dialogue and the lessening of racial isolation and stereotypes." 
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Congresswoman DeLauro, Champion of Fair Pay Policies

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: June 14, 2013 at 11:15 am

All too often, pay discrimination goes undetected because employers maintain policies that punish employees who dare try to inquire about their salary. These punitive pay secrecy policies mean that employees could be fired, demoted, or otherwise penalized simply for trying to inquire about wages. Unfortunately, research has shown that nearly half of private sector employees believe they will be punished if they dare talk about their wages. 

This week Congresswomen DeLauro tried to do something about these unfair policies. She offered an amendment that would have meant that defense contractors could not retaliate against workers who try to share or inquire about salary information. Who would disagree with that? Well, apparently the House Rules Committee did.

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Getting the Government's House in Order

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 02:30 pm

Although the overall wage gap stands at 23 cents when salaries of fulltime male and female workers are compared, it varies by key factors such as industry and occupation. In fact, the wage gap is relatively tiny in some occupations and in others it is startling large. But no matter the industry and no matter the occupation, the gender wage gap persists.  

Here's an interesting fact — in the federal government, the wage gap is much smaller than in the private sector. A GAO report [PDF] has estimated that the gap in wage is about 11 percent. I expect in the coming months that there will be a lot more attention on the wage gap among federal workers. Why? Because the President has a new memorandum ordering the Office of Personnel Management to submit "a Government-wide strategy to address any gender pay gap in the Federal workforce." The order states that the government-wide strategy should include analysis of the ways in which alterations to the federal government's pay scales could reduce the wage gap and directs agencies to consider ways to promote greater transparency.  

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Vermont’s New Equal Pay Law – A Challenge to Policymakers

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Next month is the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. And this week Vermont is showing policymakers around the country the best way to mark that day: fixing the equal pay laws. Vermont’s governor has signed a new, comprehensive equal pay law that targets a range of factors that contribute to the wage gap.

The new law takes care of some of the loop holes in Vermont’s equal pay statute, requiring that employers must have business reasons for paying workers unequal wages.

It also improves the process for ensuring that state government contractors are paying fair wages. And it goes after the pay penalty paid by mothers as well – it provides protections for new mothers who must express breast milk for their babies at work and includes protections for employees who request flexible work arrangements. It also sets the stage for a future paid family leave law in Vermont.  

Finally, it importantly bans retaliation against employees who talk about their wages.

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