Legal Momentum News Brief - March 2015

Legal Momentum News Brief - March 2015

March 24, 2015 - 09:47 -- Jean Gazis
March 23, 2015

Legal Momentum Launches "This Workplace Is a DV-Free Zone"

DV-Free Zone

Legal Momentum has launched its This Workplace Is a DV-Free Zone campaign. It includes a tool kit complete with a model policy for employers on how to respect and protect the rights of survivors of domestic violence (DV) and sexual violence in the workplace, and a "Bill of Rights" for all workers who are victims of violence. Legal Momentum aims to have the policy implemented in workplaces of all sizes throughout the country. Currently, approximately 70% of employers have no formal policy on how to treat domestic and sexual violence victims in the workplace. In 2015, every employer should be prepared for what to do when an employee is a victim of violence.

This Workplace Is a DV-Free Zone is a streamlined, easy-to-understand, and easily implemented model policy. Legal Momentum reviewed dozens of DV workplace policies, including those used by the federal and state governments, to create This Workplace Is a DV-Free Zone. On April 17 at 1 PM EDT, Legal Momentum will be leading a webinar to present the policy and answer questions. (Details about the webinar will be posted on our website in the near future. If you are interested in learning more, send an email to info@legalmomentum.org or fill out our web form at www.legalmomentum.org/dv-free-info.)

Legal Momentum also created a poster that we hope all "DV-Free Zone" workplaces will display. It is a 10-point Bill of Rights alerting employees that violence will not be tolerated at the workplace, and that employers will assist their employees who are victims of domestic, sexual, or dating violence or stalking. We are asking employers to post this Bill of Rights prominently in workplaces. It is available for download from our website and should be posted along with notices covering anti-discrimination and harassment policies as well as job opportunities for employees.

LEGAL ADVOCACY

Adding Our "Momentum" to the Campaign to Confirm Loretta Lynch as United States Attorney General
When confirmed, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch will become the first African-American woman to be Attorney General of the United States. Unfortunately, some Senators are delaying her confirmation for partisan reasons. With an email action alert, Legal Momentum is engaging our supporters to urge the Senate to hold a confirmation vote. We sent a strong letter of support to Senators Grassley and Leahy that was co-signed by a dozen other national, state, and local organizations. Legal Momentum also joined in the social media campaign to #ConfirmLynch (the Twitter "hashtag"), with posts to our blog, Facebook, and LinkedIn, as well as "Twitter storms" that engaged many of our followers during and after the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. We are urging all our supporters in key states to call their senators. If you live in Alaska (Sen. Murkowski), Illinois (Sen. Kirk), Kentucky (Sen. Majority Leader McConnell), Nevada (Sen. Heller), New Hampshire (Sen. Ayotte), Ohio (Sen. Portman), Tennessee (Sen. Alexander), or West Virginia (Sen. Moore Capito), please call your Senator today to express your support for Ms. Lynch, via the toll-free number 866-338-5720.

Legal Momentum Files Amicus Brief in HCAA v. Weil Supporting Low-Income Women
On Friday, February 27, Legal Momentum filed an amicus brief in the D.C. Circuit in HCAA v. Weil, a case that will impact hundreds of thousands of low-income women. The case concerns whether long-term home health care workers employed by third-party agencies are entitled to the federal minimum wage and overtime. Legal Momentum's brief was written by Legal Momentum's Executive Vice President and Legal Director, Penny M. Venetis, and Senior Staff Attorney Christina Brandt-Young. The health care industry has challenged Congress's and the Department of Labor's efforts to provide overtime and sick leave to home health care workers, who are overwhelmingly women of color and live below the poverty line, even though they work full time. The industry should not be permitted to prevent these women from rising out of poverty. The case is likely to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. Legal Momentum intends to continue advocating on the issue and mobilizing the 20 public interest groups and scholars who signed on to our brief.

CounterQuo Issues Media Guide for Survivors of Violence
In February, CounterQuo published a guide for survivors of sexual violence on dealing with the media. CounterQuo was founded so that leaders across disciplines could share information and skills on speaking publicly about violence against women. The guide is helpful for survivors either in or outside a campus setting, with tips to help anyone speak about gender-based violence. For example, survivors who speak out should be aware that their story will likely end up online. Legal Momentum was deeply involved in preparing the guide, which is available in PDF format at www.counterquo.org.

BIG EVENTS

Aiming High Luncheon May 6 in New York City
There's still time to register for Legal Momentum's 15th annual Aiming High Awards luncheon, to be held at The Plaza in New York on Thursday, May 6, 2015 from 11:30 AM to 2 PM. The Aiming High Awards celebrate the power of women by honoring four accomplished women who have had the courage to aim high and excel in their professions. The annual luncheon has become known as an exceptional networking opportunity. The 2015 honorees are:

  • Suzanne Rich Folsom, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer & Senior Vice President - Government Affairs, United States Steel Corporation;
  • Gina Proia, Chief Communications Officer, Ally Financial;
  • Eileen Simon, Chief Franchise Integrity Officer, MasterCard; and
  • Linda K. Zecher, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

For sponsorship information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.legalmomentum.org/aim-high, call 212-925-6635, extension 155 or 169, or email friends@legalmomentum.org.

President's Advisory Council Launch Event

On Thursday, March 26, learn more about the new Legal Momentum President's Advisory Council and Legal Momentum's important work on behalf of women and girls. The Council brings together emerging leaders interested in advancing the rights of women and girls in the United States. Members of the President's Advisory Council work collaboratively to create solutions for achieving social, political, and economic equality for women.

Equal Means Equal book cover

Jessica Neuwirth, founder and current honorary president of Equality Now, president of the ERA Coalition, and author of Equal Means Equal, will be the featured guest speaker. The "meet and greet" event will take place at 6 PM in the offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, 767 Fifth Avenue, 25th Floor, New York, NY. Refreshments will be served! If you'd like to attend - or if you can't attend but are interested in joining the Council - RSVP to friends@legalmomentum.org.

10th Annual Women of Achievement Awards a Smashing Success
Legal Momentum hosted its 10th annual Women of Achievement Awards dinner, which celebrated the accomplishments of women in business, law, and public service. The dinner was held at the InterContinental San Francisco on Thursday, March 5, 2015, and gathered 400 attendees. The event honored seven women who have not only reached the pinnacle of their professions, but who also advance Legal Momentum's mission and work advocating for the rights of women and girls.

The 2015 honorees were: Connie Collingsworth, General Counsel and Secretary, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Marie Oh Huber, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, RA/QA and Corporate Relations, Agilent Technologies; The Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel, Federal Judge (retired), U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; Mary Quazzo, Vice President, Secretary, Principal Counsel & Manager of Corporate Legal, Bechtel Group, Inc.; Emily Ward, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, eBay Inc.; Catherine Zinn, Senior National Relationships Executive, DLA Piper LLP; and Debra L. Zumwalt, Vice President and General Counsel, Stanford University. Judge Patel was a co-founder of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, which became Legal Momentum.

Women of Achievement 2015

Photo, left to right: Legal Momentum Board Chair Elaine Wood, Connie Collingsworth, Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel, Debra L. Zumwalt, Catherine Zinn, Emily Ward, Marie Oh Huber, Mary Quazzo, Legal Momentum Board member Loria Yeadon, who was the emcee for the event

EDUCATION

NJEP Works to Improve Court Response to Sexual Violence
NJEP Director Lynn Hecht Schafran Speaks to Columbia Law Students about Court Response to Sexual Violence
On February 23, 2015, National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) Director Lynn Hecht Schafran spoke to the Columbia Law Reading Group on Sexual Assault Reform at her alma mater. She spoke about the biases that victims of sexual assault face in the courts, the resources that NJEP has developed to educate judges about the many aspects of sexual assault, how to conduct sexual assault trials so as to avoid re-traumatizing victims without undermining defendants' rights, and the positive response to NJEP's efforts. The student-run Reading Group on Sexual Assault Reform was co-organized by Catherine Djang, a 2L at Columbia Law School and former Legal Momentum intern.

Educating Washington State Judges about the Realities of Sexual Assault
When judges believe myths about rape and domestic violence, they may make decisions that endanger women's safety. Legal Momentum's NJEP educated judges in Washington State about the realities of sexual assault, on February 9 and 10. The judges' evaluations of the program, Enhancing Courts' Response to Adult Victim Sexual Violence, made clear that they had gained valuable knowledge which they could apply in their own courtrooms and communities. The program opened with a segment on sex offenders that used NJEP's nationally known DVD The Undetected Rapist. Subsequent segments explored the neurobiology of trauma, the impact of vicarious trauma on judges, complex evidentiary and enforcement issues in state and tribal courts, and judicial leadership on the issue of sexual assault within the code of judicial conduct. NJEP Project Attorney Claudia J. Bayliff presented NJEP's curriculum Raped or "Seduced"? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence. The program was the result of months of collaborative planning among NJEP, the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts, the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission, and the King County (Seattle) Sexual Assault Resource Center, with support from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

Lynn Hecht Schafran Participates in Roundtable on Sexual Assault in the Military
NJEP Director Lynn Hecht Schafran serves on the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law. She is particularly concerned with the high rate of sexual violence in the armed services. Most recently, she attended a roundtable meeting that included the top Judge Advocate General (JAG) from each service and staff of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

NJEP Speaks on "Media and Domestic Violence" Panel at 19th Annual Fordham Law School Domestic Violence Conference
The annual Fordham Domestic Violence Conference brings together legal services attorneys, private practitioners and members of the judiciary and academia to learn and discuss cutting-edge issues arising in advocates' work with survivors. This year's conference, attended by more than 200 advocates and lawyers, concluded with a panel on "Media and Domestic Violence" at which NJEP Director Lynn Hecht Schafran discussed NJEP's online curriculum Raped or "Seduced"? How Language Shapes Our Response to Sexual Violence.

Columbia Teaches with Legal Momentum's Reports
Columbia School of Social Work professor Stephen Pimpare is an award-winning author of two books and some 60 articles, essays, and reviews on poverty, welfare, and inequality. When he needed authoritative materials on women and poverty for a presentation to 300 people, he turned to Legal Momentum. Legal Momentum was happy to provide him with materials from our report Beyond the Myths about Single Motherhood for his presentation commemorating the 50th anniversary of Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). The report is available at www.legalmomentum.org/beyond.

HONORS

Carol Robles-Román Named 2015 "Ford Public Voices Fellow"
In a highly competitive process, Carol Robles-Román was chosen as a 2015 "Ford Public Voices Fellow." The Ford Foundation Public Voices Fellowship is part of a national initiative by The OpEd Project, in partnership with leading academic institutions and foundations, to dramatically increase the public impact of our nation's top thought leaders. The Fellowship is supported by the Ford Foundation's Women's Human Rights Initiative. Carol participated in the first convening of the 2015 Ford Public Voices Fellows on March 19 and 20 in New York City, and there will be gatherings of Fellows in May, September, and November. The Public Voices Fellows are considered one of the most powerful networks for impact in the nation.

PLEN Honors Legal Momentum V.P. Lisalyn Jacobs
The Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) introduces college women to role models, career paths, and skills trainings before they enter the workforce. On the occasion of PLEN's 35th anniversary, Legal Momentum's Vice President for Government Affairs, Lisalyn R. Jacobs (an alumna of the program), was honored for her outstanding contributions to public policy, including helping to pass the landmark Violence Against Women Act and its several reauthorizations. Lisalyn received an award on March 18 at an event hosted by former Congresswoman and Ambassador Connie Morella and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Legal Momentum's National Judicial Education Program Wins 2014 Celebrating Solutions Award from the Mary Byron Project
The Mary Byron Project awarded Legal Momentum's National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) its 2014 Celebrating Solutions Award. This award recognizes NJEP's groundbreaking effort to educate judges and justice system professionals about the intersection of sexual assault and domestic violence and its critical implications for the safety of victims and their children. NJEP has developed an extensive interactive web course titled Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases, published articles and training curricula, and educated thousands of judges and other professionals on the topic. All of NJEP's resources on adult victim sexual assault can be accessed at www.njep.org. The Mary Byron Project was established in memory of the young woman whose tragic murder led to the creation of automated crime victim notification technologies.

PRESENTATIONS

Latinos and the Law Lecture at NYU School of Law, March 2, 2015
The Bickel and Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights at New York University School of Law presents the annual Latinos and the Law Lecture, featuring a prominent Hispanic attorney each year. Carol Robles-Román was the 2015 speaker, and gave an inspiring talk on "Judges, Justice, and Jurisprudence: How Latinos Can Make an Impact Today."

Thomson Reuters Summit on Transformative Leadership, March 3, 2015
Carol Robles-Román was the morning keynote speaker at Transformative Leadership: Empowering Women by Improving Participation and Representation, presented by the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute on March 3, 2015 in New York City. Carol's topic was "The State of Women and Global Leadership - What's Working, What's Not?"

Women of the Northwest Discussion, March 8, 2015
The Women of the Northwest discussion with Carol Robles-Román took place Sunday, March 8, 2015 in Seattle. The private event was hosted by Petra Franklin, Maria Klawe, and Alex Tibbetts. The purpose of the discussion series is to celebrate women's accomplishments and encourage their success by building relationships. The networking group aims to improve the representation of women in leadership roles. Past Women of the Northwest guests have included Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dawn Lepore, Chair and CEO of Drugstore.com.

U.N. Panel on Human Rights, March 9, 2015
On March 9, 2015, Legal Momentum's Executive Vice President and Legal Director, Penny Venetis, was invited by Global Rights for Women to speak on a panel about human rights at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Penny spoke about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which Legal Momentum drafted along with then-Senator Biden, and was enacted into law in 1994 and reauthorized most recently in 2013. She compared VAWA to international instruments protecting women from violence, including the Istanbul Protocol, the Convention of Belém do Pará, and the Maputo Protocol.

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