National Women’s Law Center Launches Network to Fight Sex Discrimination

National Women’s Law Center Launches Network to Fight Sex Discrimination

Reflecting concerns over the country’s progress toward gender equality, the National Women’s Law Center, a Washington-based advocacy group for women’s rights, has announced the formation of a new legal network dedicated to helping women and girls who are victims of sex discrimination. The NWLC has recruited more than 70 attorneys in 15 states so far, and aims to have attorneys affiliating with the network in every state, the Associated Press reports:

Fatima Goss Graves, president of the [NWLC] … said the initiative was prompted by growing concerns that protections against sex discrimination were being weakened under the Trump administration. “We’ve seen a surge of gender-based hostility and harassment across the nation,” said Goss Graves, who decried “escalating federal rollbacks to critical protections in education, the workplace, and health care.” …

Creation of the new legal network was welcomed by Lenora Lapidus, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project. “Bringing in more attorneys to really focus on these cases is a good idea,” she said. “We become like a tide that can push change more rapidly.”

The announcement comes in the wake of several high-profile sexual harassment scandals and gender discrimination lawsuits, which have called attention to how vulnerable women still are to mistreatment in the American workplace. Rewire’s Bryce Covert takes a closer look at what the network is already doing, and what it hopes to accomplish:

It already has its first case. The network fielded a call from Kassandra Lawrence, a police officer in Stafford, Virginia, who alleges that she was denied a work accommodation while she was pregnant, was pushed into unpaid leave, and was blocked from having her coworkers donate their paid sick leave to her during a pregnancy-related surgery. Yet other employees were routinely given accommodations and donated sick pay, she claims. The network has since put her in touch with the Spiggle Law Firm, which has filed a lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination on her behalf. …

And it also serves as a signal. “We felt like it was really important to also be able to tell institutions, whether you’re talking about employers or schools … that these landmark laws still exist,” Goss Graves said. The federal government may be brushing them aside, but it doesn’t make them any less real. “It matters the message that the federal government sends. And so we think it’s important to send some additional messages,” she said.