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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

The Right Side of History

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: July 21, 2010 at 10:21 am

I had the pleasure of attending the White House Middle Class Task Force event, where the Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force presented its recommendation to help close the wage gap (which, if you read this blog you know stands at 77 cents on the dollar and is even worse for women of color). The Task Force announced that it would engage in additional data collection, public education, and coordination among the key agencies to enhance enforcement of the nation's

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Attacks on Justice Thurgood Marshall – Really?

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: June 30, 2010 at 07:52 pm

by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education
and Employment,
National Women's Law Center

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Give the Public What it Wants—Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: June 09, 2010 at 03:30 pm

by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment,
National Women's Law Center

President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law on June 10, 1963, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work. At the time, women made only 59 cents on the dollar. 47 years later, the wage gap persists—women make only 77 cents for every dollar made by men, and for women of color, the numbers are even worse. The persistent wage gap, coupled with the egregious conduct highlighted by recent high profile law suits, make clear that the current laws to prevent discrimination in the workplace are not up to adequately addressing pay discrimination.

Turns out, the public agrees. 

In a nationwide poll released today, 84 percent said they supported "a new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace." Participants were told that the "law will also make it harder for employers to justify paying different wages for the same work and ensure that businesses that break the law compensate women fairly." And 72 percent of respondents strongly supported such a law.

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A New Day for Women in the Military

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: May 28, 2010 at 08:02 pm

by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment,
and Jenifer Rajkumar, Health and Reproductive Rights Fellow,
National Women's Law Center

Yesterday proved to be a good day in our quest to end discrimination in the military. 

We were proud to see our Representatives stand on the floor of the House and forcefully state that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was discriminatory and downright un-American. In the end, the House voted 234-194 to allow the military to end the laws and policies that prohibit military members who are gay from serving openly.

Ending the policy was long overdue -– as the NWLC Co-Presidents said in letters to the House and Senate, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is "both discriminatory and counterproductive." Over 13,000 military members were discharged over the policy, and inexplicably women were discharged at rates that far exceed their presence in the military services.  

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a similar measure yesterday, putting it on track for final passage. We look forward to this policy finally being put to rest.

Happily, this was not the only victory we witnessed in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday evening. Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) introduced an amendment which would repeal the current discriminatory law that bans abortion in military facilities even if a woman pays for the abortion with her own private money. Burris’s amendment passed by a vote of 16 to 10 and will now be included in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act as it moves to the Senate floor for a vote in the coming weeks. 

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Supreme Court Reverses Harmful Appellate Court Decision in Lewis v. City of Chicago

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: May 24, 2010 at 08:27 pm

By Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment,
and Kavitha Sivashanker, Fellow,
National Women's Law Center

Today, the Supreme Court took an important step in upholding workers’ rights and promoting equal workplace opportunities by reversing a harmful Seventh Circuit decision in the case of Lewis v. City of Chicago. The Court’s opinion was unanimous, and was written by Justice Scalia, who voted against Lilly Ledbetter’s right to sue her employer.

In Lewis, African-American firefighters were denied positions with the City of Chicago Fire Department based on the results of a flawed exam that had an adverse impact on African-American male and female applicants. The City announced in early 1996 how candidates would be selected for hire from the exam’s results, but the plaintiffs were not harmed by this practice until the City made its first selection of candidates months later. Today’s decision will have a wide-ranging impact on employees’ ability to challenge policies that limit opportunities for women and people of color, such as the testing practices at issue in Lewis as well as education requirements, criminal history requirements, residency requirements, height and weight requirements, and credit checks.

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