I have a pretty cool grandmother. She is more current on culture than almost anyone I know, seeing every new film release before I have, always having an opinion on every political event as it happens. When Mad Men premiered in 2007 to widespread critical acclaim, I naturally asked my grandmother if she was watching. Her response: “I don’t need to watch it. I lived it.”
September 7 is National Grandparent’s Day, and thanks to the American Grandparents Association and the National Women’s Law Center, I was given the special opportunity to interview my grandmother about what it was like to be a working woman in America in the 1950s — what it truly meant to “live” Mad Men. Read more »
Have you ever heard of “clopening?” It’s when a worker has to close up the shop, store, or restaurant where they work late at night and then report for an early-morning shift just a few hours later. Stressful scheduling like clopening frequently occurs when employers use scheduling software designed to maximize profits—often at the expense of working mothers and their children. This week, the New York Times featured a front-page profile of Jannette Navarro, a mom who works as a barista at a Starbucks in New York City. Jannette’s story shows how the scheduling practices of major chains are unsustainable for moms who need child care, as well as highly detrimental to their children, who bear the brunt of a lack of stability.
The challenges for Jannette Navarro and many women like her begin with the scheduling software many companies use to determine employees’ shifts based on how much business they anticipate. This software enables companies to increase their profits by reducing labor costs, but it works, as the New York Times calls it, by “redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families.” Jannette typically received her always-changing schedule just three days in advance, leaving very little time to arrange child care for her 4-year-old son, Gavin. While Gavin could attend a preschool program during the day, shifts early in the morning or later in the evening forced Jannette to scramble to get a friend or relative to take care of him—and Gavin’s child center is not open on weekends. Furthermore, Jannette worried about losing access to child care because of her work schedule, since Gavin’s eligibility depended on her working a minimum number of hours, and she was always at risk of not getting enough. Read more »
It is a very simple principle — you can’t fix a problem that you don’t know about.
With that in mind, yesterday the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs — the agency charged with enforcing laws that prohibit discrimination by companies that contract with the federal government — announced a proposal for a new rule that will require certain contractors to report on how they pay their workers.
The annual Equal Pay Report that contractors will have to submit if this new rule is adopted will include information about employee compensation and the demographics of the company’s workforce. Having such data will help OFCCP to root out pay discrimination against women and minorities more effectively. The collection and reporting of this data to the government will also give contractors strong incentives to proactively monitor their own pay practices and to eliminate any unjustified pay disparities. Read more »
Yesterday, Representatives Miller and DeLauro and Senators Harkin and Warren introduced the Schedules That Work Act. This groundbreaking legislation would give all Americans a say in when they work and curb the most abusive scheduling practices in certain low-wage jobs. At a congressional briefing, workers from the restaurant, retail and fast food industries explained to a standing room only crowd what it’s like to have no clue what your schedule will be from one day to the next, and why we need the Schedules That Work Act.
Schedules That Work Act Press Conference –7.22.14. From Left to Right: Sandy Kossangba (ROC), Representative Rosa DeLauro, Melody Pabon (RAP), Sherry Hamilton-Elder (RWDSU), Tiffany Beroid (OW), Liz Watson (NWLC), Representative George Miller, and Mary Coleman (Wisconsin Jobs NOW).
Imagine getting to work for your scheduled shift after taking an hour-long bus commute only to be told to go home without clocking in because there were enough employees there already. Seems ridiculous, right? But that was Mary Coleman’s reality when she arrived at work at a Popeye’s in Milwaukee.
Her story was published last Wednesday in a New York Times article on the unpredictable workplace hours and short notice scheduling that are a reality for many workers. Readers had a lot to say about the issue – it garnered more than 440 responses in the comment section.
Many readers were shocked and angry about the unfair treatment that Mary and other workers faced, and others had personal stories about unpredictable scheduling in their own workplaces.
Here are 10 of our favorite comments from the NYT article from readers who agree that fair hours and predictable scheduling are rights that should be given to all workers. Read more »
This morning, I was lucky enough to be there in person to see President Obama sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as explicitly adding “gender identity” to the federal government’s own nondiscrimination in employment policy (which already prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation).
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. It banned race discrimination by recipients of federal funds, helping to advance school desegregation; it prohibited race discrimination in public accommodations; and—crucially—it banned employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion and sex.
As we look back on this critical anniversary for civil rights, we have a prime opportunity to remember the ways in which the Act influences and was influenced by women.
Women’s rights should never be a joke, but they were a laughing matter on the floor of Congress when Representative Howard Smith of Virginia suggested adding sex as an additional basis on which to prohibit employment discrimination, a proposition that seemed hilarious to many of his colleagues. Smith, a southern Democrat, was a staunch segregationist, and included women’s rights as a ploy to kill the entire civil rights bill.
Representative Martha Griffiths of Michigan was integral to the inclusion of women as a protected class. After Smith mockingly introduced the idea, Griffiths fought to lobby other representatives to support it, and wound up triumphing.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation into law on July 2, 1964, for the first time in the nation’s history, federal law prohibited employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Title VII has opened up a world of opportunity for women in the workplace. In 1964, women made up only 35 percent of the workforce. Pregnant workers were often kicked out of the workplace the moment they started showing. Women were limited to certain occupations based solely on the fact that they were women. Today, women make up half of the workforce and 40 percent are sole or primary breadwinners for their families.
Despite tremendous progress, there is still a long way to go. For many women, particularly women working in low-wage jobs and women of color, discrimination remains an all too real reality in the workplace. Pregnant workers who have a medical need for temporary modifications in job policies or duties in order to continue working safely through their pregnancies are often denied these accommodations and forced out of their jobs instead, even when employers are already providing accommodations to workers who need them because of disabilities or injuries. Women working in the same job as men are still paid less based on the false assumption that women do not “need” fair wages, because they do not have breadwinning responsibilities. Read more »