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By Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

The Obama Administration gave expectant moms a belated mother’s day gift. Guidance issued yesterday clarifies that new insurance plans must cover preventive prenatal services without cost sharing for all dependents — including expectant mothers enrolled on a parent’s plan. This is great news for expectant mothers who discover once they are pregnant that they don’t have maternity coverage under their parent’s plan.

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By Katie Hegarty, Online Outreach Assistant
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

The Academy Awards are, in one word, big. Big awards, big celebrities, big blockbusters, big hair…and in recent years, a big social media presence. Last year, a selfie tweeted by host Ellen DeGeneres “broke Twitter.” This year, that honor went to a surprising but overdue recipient: the call for equal pay.

The awards night thank you speech is a moment that, let’s be honest, sends a lot of us channel-surfing. But Patricia Arquette used that moment to tell millions of people about the critical need for fair pay. “It’s our time,” she said, “to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

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By Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

You may have already read about the first-of-its-kind study that documents the connection between denials of abortion and intimate partner violence.  Now it is up to us to use this important new evidence in the fight to stop bad abortion laws at the state and federal levels.

States are passing extreme abortion restrictions at a record rate. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more state abortion restrictions were enacted in the last three years than in the entire previous decade. And in only the first half of 2014, 13 states passed 21 new restrictions.  And in Congress, the only thing stopping the anti-choice proponents in the House is the fact that the Senate is controlled by a pro-choice majority.

The crazy thing is that the anti-reproductive rights lawmakers passing these laws often claim that they are doing it to protect women's health.  Take a second to think about that.  They claim they are taking away our access to health care to protect our health.  Hmm...no.

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By Liz Watson, NWLC Senior Counsel, and Elizabeth Johnston, NWLC Fellow. Cross-posted from NWLC.org.

Labor Day memorializes laborers' courageous fights throughout our nation's history for fair working conditions, starting with battles over long hours, low pay, child labor, and unsafe working conditions in the 1800s and 1900s that led to major advances in all of these areas.

And today, workers are still on the frontlines -- fighting for livable wages and for an end to abusive scheduling practices, which are increasingly common in the American workplace. All too often, employers require that workers have completely open availability to be eligible for full-time hours, and cancel and assign shifts at the very last minute. Too many part-time workers simply cannot get enough hours at their jobs to make ends meet.

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By Liz Watson
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

This week, 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.

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By Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel, National Women's Law Center
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

Today, two circuit courts ruled on whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows individuals enrolled in health insurance through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace to receive federal subsidies to help with health insurance costs, specifically premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.

A panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld these subsidies, finding that the IRS interpretation providing subsidies through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace is “permissible construction of the statutory language.”

Hours earlier, a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, overturned the District Court’s holding in Halbig v. Burwell, finding that the ACA does not allow for subsidies in the Federally Facilitated Marketplace. The decision has no immediate effect and the Department of Justice has already stated that the Obama Administration will seek a review by the full D.C. Circuit. We are confident the panel decision will not be upheld.

If this decision were to be upheld, it would mean 4.7 million individuals—including millions of women and their families—would lose access to affordable health insurance.

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Written by Nikki Lewis, Executive Director, DC Jobs with Justice, and Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women, NWLC
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

What do you call the person who can make you stay late at work, who decides who works the night shift and who works days, who works the cash register and who cleans the toilets? You call that person the boss. But exactly one year ago today, the Supreme Court said that if the person who directs your daily work harasses you, unless they also have the power to hire and fire you, the strong protections that are supposed to kick in when bosses harass their subordinates do not apply.

Right about now, you might be scratching your head thinking that this doesn’t make any sense. And you would be right. But let us explain how we ended up with this terrible rule and what can be done about it.

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Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 02:00 PM PDT

A Tale of Two Macy's

by National Womens Law Center

By Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women, National Women's Law Center
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

Earlier today, I caught up with Kay Thompson and Sasha Hammad during a break at the White House Summit on Working Families. Kay spoke at the Summit about what having a predicable full-time schedule and a say in the timing of her work hours has meant for her family. Sasha Hammad is director of the Retail Action Project, and is fighting to secure these same protections for all retail workers in New York City.

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By Neena Chaudhry, National Women's Law Center
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

When you think of a construction worker, what image comes to mind? Chances are you think of a man, and that’s no surprise. Women are only 2.6% of all construction workers, and that number is the same as it was 30 years ago. Our new report, Women in Construction: Still Breaking Ground delves into some of the reasons why women are so underrepresented in construction and what can be done about it.

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By Amy Tannenbaum and Liz Watson, National Women's Law Center
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

At Tuesday’s HELP Committee hearing on women’s economic security Senator Warren called attention to the extreme challenges  workers in low-wage jobs with unstable and unpredictable schedules often face – including the challenge of getting their schedules at the last minute, having hours that vary dramatically from week to week or month to month, having little ability to alter the timing of their work hours without facing a penalty, and working too few hours to make ends meet.

Senator Warren said: “[the lack of predictable work schedules and hours] makes juggling a family, a home and work for many people almost impossible” (you can watch her here starting at 1:46). Amanda Legros, a worker from New York, put the problem in stark relief when she described her own struggle [PDF] to try to get enough hours at work to make ends meet while parenting a young child.

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By Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women, National Women's Law Center
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

Lynette Harris, a maintenance technician, brought a sexual harassment suit against the City of Baltimore’s Department of Public Works in 2006. She alleged that male coworkers and supervisors referred to her and other women as “bitches” and used other derogatory terms on almost a daily basis, that she was repeatedly exposed to provocative photos of women in common areas at work, and that sexually explicit conversations were common in the workplace. The court held that Harris was entitled to a trial on her claims of supervisor harassment because several of her harassers were able to exert control over her routine work assignments, even though it was unclear whether her supervisors had the power to hire and fire her.

But, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision last June in Vance v. Ball State University, courts across the country will be forced to restrict the definition of supervisor to only those with the power to hire and fire, and the like. This means that employers will no longer have a heightened legal obligation to protect against harassment by lower-level supervisors who direct daily work activities but are not authorized to take actions like hiring and firing – and that employees harassed by lower-level supervisors will have to bring their claims under the far tougher standard that applies to cases of coworker harassment.

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By Liz Watson, Senior Counsel and Director of Workplace Justice for Women, National Women's Law Center
Cross-posted from NWLC's blog

In last night’s State of the Union speech President Obama described how women are hit hard by growing income inequality in America. He's right. Women make up 60% of those workers in jobs paying under $10.10 an hour – jobs like home health aide, child care worker, and cashier. Sixty percent of the job gains by women in the recovery were in the 10 largest low-wage jobs, as compared to 20% for men. And in jobs with the largest projected job growth over the next decade, almost half are low-wage and nearly two-thirds are female-dominated.

But it's not just the wages in these jobs that are unequal. It's also the working conditions and especially the work and family conditions – including abusive scheduling practices, lack of paid leave and paid sick days and the overall mistreatment of workers who are pregnant or have caregiving needs.

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