WLP Joins Rally for the Agenda for Women’s Health

On Monday, a sea of pink flooded the Capitol for Planned Parenthood’s Day of Action. Women’s Law Project was there to join constituents in asking Pennsylvania lawmakers to support the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health. The Agenda is a legislative package of bills designed to promote and protect the health and economic security of women in Pennsylvania. Agenda bills are sponsored and supported by members of the Women’s Health Caucus, a bipartisan, pro-choice caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature. Since the first wave of Agenda bills was introduced last session, more than a dozen bills have been introduced, and three have successfully passed into law. We were thrilled to join young women and men from all over the state, many who were visiting the Capitol for the first time, to express their support for the Agenda and concern that too often in Pennsylvania politics, “women’s health” is just code for “abortion restriction.” “What a thrill to be surrounded by hundreds of women’s health activists fighting for the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health,” says Sue Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney at Women’s Law Project in Pittsburgh. “The Capitol looked beautiful in pink.” Pennsylvania consistently ranks as one of the worst states for women’s health andeconomic security. It’s clear we need less rhetoric and more solutions to the very real problems faced by women in Pennsylvania. For example, did you know that women who work at small businesses in Pennsylvania have less protections against sexual harassment than employees at large corporations? It’s true. An Agenda bill has been proposed to close that legal loophole by extending the protections of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which prohibits sexual discrimination, to all companies across the state. Even though pregnancy discrimination is technically illegal, in practice, some employers try to force pregnant workers off the job by refusing to provide minor temporary accommodations such as letting an employee sit on a stool or carry a bottle of water. We routinely receive phone calls from women around the state who are stuck in this situation. The Agenda’s “Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers” would ensure that women are not forced to choose between employment and a healthy pregnancy.Philadelphia and Pittsburgh passed limited local protections, but the rest of the women in state are left without protection. Women’s Law Project attorney Amal Bass, who testified in support of the Philadelphia ordinance, addressed the crowd on the Capitol steps. “There are many women who will never need a workplace accommodation during their pregnancies, but for individuals who do, the consequences are dire when their employer refuses to provide one,” said Bass. “Let’s make it happen. The health and economic security...

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“It Shall Be Fair”

By Sue Frietsche, WLP Senior Staff Attorney I spent Saturday, March 28 with about 40 women and a few men at a workshop called, “Women’s Rights on the Job: Building Knowledge, Power and Community.” The Women’s Law Project cosponsored this event, along with Working Women Rising—a broad and growing network of working and union women from across the Pittsburgh region—and the Women’s Caucus of Fight Back Pittsburgh, the Associate Member Program of USW Local 3657. On this cold spring afternoon, the great room at the Smithfield Church in downtown Pittsburgh was hung with bright banners saying, “$15 and a Union” and “Fight Back Pittsburgh.” The room was buzzing with workers from the restaurant, fast food, and hospital industries. It seemed that every person had a jaw-dropping story of workplace injustice to tell. Before long, a whole wall was dotted with neon orange and fuschia sticky notes cataloguing “Issues for Working Women on the Job” (aka problems), and “How We Stand Up, Fight Back” (aka solutions). I was struck by how many of the issues plastered on the church wall involved incredibly illegal conduct by employers (sexual harassment, wage theft, pregnancy discrimination, no accommodations for nursing mothers, unequal pay), and yet how few of the solutions involved calling a lawyer or filing a discrimination charge. This roomful of vibrant, engaged, angry women did not, for the most part, see the legal system as a useful source of protection or safety, or an available route to justice. Instead, they saw the legal system as an empty promise, or simply irrelevant to their struggles. What can feminist lawyers do to help make the promise of workplace equality a reality for these women? Surely, one answer is to strengthen laws. For most working parents, the need for such humane and commonsense policies such as paid sick and parental leave, a predictable schedule, affordable child care, and a living wage is nearly universal, yet these policies are simply not guaranteed by law. Incredibly, discrimination based on a worker’s sexual orientation is perfectly legal in most Pennsylvania counties. Even when a law exists to address a problem (such as sexual harassment, unequal pay, pregnancy discrimination), it is often riddled with exceptions, exclusions, and defenses that skew it against the victim. So, expanding legal protections, closing loopholes in existing laws, and eliminating provisions that give certain employers a “free pass” to discriminate or harass are bound to help. A second answer is to enforce these laws more aggressively. The chasm dividing Title VII from the restaurant worker whose boss won’t stop the customers from grabbing her is wide and deep. That chasm can only be bridged...

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Women’s Law Project Heads to the PA Progressive Summit

by Tara Murtha, WLP Staff As a non-profit Pennsylvania-based organization dedicated to advancing the legal status of women and girls, we are, of course, heading up to Harrisburg for the Progressive Summit today. These are a few of the panels that you will not want to miss: At 11AM on Saturday, Senior Staff Attorney Sue Frietsche—a well-recognized expert in policy and regulations relating to reproductive healthcare in Pennsylvania–will co-host a session called “Abortion in the U.S.: The Good and the Bad, and the Local.” This panel will describe the state of abortion rights after the 2014 state legislative session, including both harmful and progressive laws, implications for abortion care and law in Pennsylvania, and how the way we talk about abortion can change the way people think and legislators act. The panel will also discuss opportunities to change abortion access and the culture around abortion in your local community, regardless of the politics in Harrisburg. Frietsche is co-hosting the panel with Jordan Goldberg, Senior Counsel for the National Institute for Reproductive Health; Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood PA Advocates; and Ravina Daphtary, Senior State Strategies Manager at All Above All. Right after that session, we’re heading over to “The Agenda for Women’s Health: Where This Groundbreaking Package of Bills is Heading in 2015.” The Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health is a bipartisan, pro-choice package of bills that is changing the conversation around reproductive healthcare in the Capitol and the public sphere. Since it was introduced last legislative session, Pennsylvania has been lauded as a model for developing proactive legislation to protect women’s reproductive freedom and economic security amid unprecedented anti-choice legislative attacks. With a pro-women’s health governor at the helm, will we see the attacks on reproductive health diminish and efforts to strengthen women and families flourish? This session will explore this, and other pertinent questions. At 5:00PM, Associate Director of Strategic Communications Tara Murtha will co-host Media Training 101 with Keystone Progress Communications Director John Neurohr. This session will detail what to expect when talking to reporters, strategies to keep in mind when trying to get “earned media” for your organization, and how to use all available media platforms to get your message out. Participants will learn about building relationships with journalists and outlets, about proactive and reactive media outreach and how to think about media from the perspective of a journalist, not just from your perspective. We are also looking forward to attending a slew of workshops and panels that address eliminating discrimination and securing economic prosperity in Pennsylvania. In particular, we are interested in “Building the Movement for Reproductive Justice,” co-hosted by Jasmine Burnett and Julia...

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Equal Pay

In 2012, Pennsylvania women made 77 cents for every dollar men earned, for a pay gap of 23%. Women are offered fewer job opportunities, fewer promotions and lower pay than men, even when they have identical resumes. Women compose nearly 2/3 of the adult minimum wage workforce…

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Women Offered Lower Pay Than Men

Women are offered fewer job opportunities, fewer promotions and lower pay than men, even when they have identical resumes. Less pay for the same job: Women are paid less than men in nearly every occupation. One study found that out of 265 major occupations, men’s median salary exceeded women’s in all but one. Economists have documented the role of gender bias in employment decisions through studies that show women were offered fewer job opportunities, fewer promotions, and lower pay than men, even when they had identical resumes. To close the wage gap, we must address discrimination in pay and promotions on the same job. SOLUTIONS Take Action Find out what the gender wage gap is in your county or see map Learn about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign here Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these reports to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (2013) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Graduating to a Pay Gap (2012) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Pay Gap in Selected STEM Occupations (2011) American Association of University Women...

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Women 2/3 of Adult Minimum Wage Workforce

Women compose nearly 2/3 of the adult minimum wage workforce, and the minimum wage is too low. Job segregation: Gender role stereotypes concentrate women in jobs such as retail sales, home health care, and child care. These jobs pay low wages and are often part-time. Women compose nearly 2/3 of the adult minimum wage workforce, and the minimum wage is too low. Jobs considered to be “women’s work” typically pay less than male-dominated jobs requiring equivalent skill and effort, and women remain under-represented in higher paying work traditionally done by men, such as construction, fire-fighting and policing. SOLUTIONS Take Action Find out what the gender wage gap is in your county or see map Learn about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign here Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these reports to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (2013) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Graduating to a Pay Gap (2012) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Pay Gap in Selected STEM Occupations (2011) American Association of University Women...

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Women in the Dark about Pay Differences

By prohibiting employees from discussing their pay, employers keep women in the dark about pay differences, limiting their ability to negotiate for higher pay and to enforce their rights under the equal pay laws. Retaliation against workers for discussing their pay: Most employees report that they are either prohibited or actively discouraged from discussing their pay. Employers with policies preventing employees from sharing pay information keep women in the dark about pay differences, limiting their ability to negotiate for higher pay and to enforce their rights under the equal pay laws. SOLUTIONS Take Action Find out what the gender wage gap is in your county or see map Learn about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign here Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these reports to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (2013) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Graduating to a Pay Gap (2012) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Pay Gap in Selected STEM Occupations (2011) American Association of University Women...

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Wage Theft

Women are significantly more likely than men to experience minimum wage violations. Wage theft: Being paid less than the minimum wage, being shorted hours, being forced to work off the clock, not being paid overtime, and not being paid at all are pervasive practices across many industries. Women, especially immigrant women in low-wage jobs, are often hit hardest by wage theft. According to a survey of low-wage workers in America’s three largest cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, and NYC), women were significantly more likely than men to experience minimum wage violations, and 47% of the undocumented women workers surveyed reported wage violations by their employer. Employers who fail to pay women workers the wage owed to them deny these women the fair pay they need to support themselves and their families. SOLUTIONS Take Action Find out what the gender wage gap is in your county or see map Learn about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign here Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these reports to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (2013) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Graduating to a Pay Gap (2012) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Pay Gap in Selected STEM Occupations (2011) American Association of University Women...

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Employers Pay Women Less

Employers pay women less from the moment of hire and deny them promotions because they automatically presume women will have children and then will commit less time and dedication to their jobs. Pay reductions due to pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities: Employers pay women less due to pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities.  From the moment of hire women are paid less and denied promotions because employers automatically presume women will have children and then will commit less time and dedication to their jobs. If women do get pregnant or take on caregiving responsibilities, they sometimes lose income because of overt discrimination based on these stereotypes. They also lose pay when they are deprived of opportunities to advance to higher paid jobs or are pushed out of work altogether because employers do not accommodate needs that may arise for women as a result of pregnancy and caregiving, including through paid family leave or paid sick days, and flexible, predictable, and stable schedules. The result is that women experience diminished income throughout their working lives. SOLUTIONS Take Action Find out what the gender wage gap is in your county or see map Learn about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign here Contact Your Elected Representatives Pressure on politicians matters. Find your state representative – click here Find your congressional representative – click here Become a County Leader Take the lead in your community. Check out these reports to learn more about the gender wage gap Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women (2012) Women’s Law Project (WLP) The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (2013) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Graduating to a Pay Gap (2012) American Association of University Women (AAUW) Pay Gap in Selected STEM Occupations (2011) American Association of University Women...

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Solutions for Equal Pay

Congress should adopt The Paycheck Fairness Act. This Act would: Strengthen the protections guaranteed by the Equal Pay Act, passed in 1963. Close a loophole in defenses employers may assert for pay differences between men and women. Prohibit retaliation and strengthens penalties for equal pay violations. Authorize additional training for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) staff. The EEOC is the government agency that enforces federal employment discrimination laws....

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Gender Wage Gap Won’t Close Before 2058

Released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR):  Most Women Working Today Will Not See Equal Pay During their Working...

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Even Monkeys Understand Inequality

Watch this video.  Even the monkeys understand when things are not fair and equal.

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Fewer Job Opportunities

Women are offered fewer job opportunities, fewer promotions and lower pay than men, even when they have identical resumes.

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Minimum Wage Workforce

Women compose nearly 2/3 of the adult minimum wage workforce, and the minimum wage is too low Job segregation: Gender role stereotypes concentrate women in jobs such as retail sales, home health care, and child care. These jobs pay low wages and are often part-time. Women compose nearly 2/3 of the adult minimum wage workforce, and the minimum wage is too low. Jobs considered to be “women’s work” typically pay less than male-dominated jobs requiring equivalent skill and effort, and women remain under-represented in higher paying work traditionally done by men, such as construction, fire-fighting and policing....

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Employment Discrimination

Wage discrimination cannot be tolerated.

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