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WLP Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson Honored as Trailblazer

Terry Fromson Terry L. Fromson, managing attorney of the Women’s Law Project, has been chosen to receive a prestigious 20/20 Vision Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence. Marking its 20th anniversary, the Commission created the 20/20 Vision Award to honor 20 lawyers who have played key roles in improving societal response to domestic and sexual violence. Fromson will be honored along with Vice President Joe Biden, who introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990, Senator Patrick Leahy, and other visionary leaders from across the country. Read full story.

WLP Files Amicus Brief in Pittsburgh Buffer Zone 3rd Circuit Appeal

After federal courts repeatedly upheld Pittsburgh’s 15-foot clinic buffer zone ordinance, opponents of legal abortion are still fighting to knock it down. The fight in Pittsburgh is an important one, with implications for the safety of patients and providers across the country. Read full story. See amicus brief.

Paid Sick Leave Bill to be Introduced in Pittsburgh Today (7/7/2015)

Pittsburgh City Council member Corey O’Connor will introduce an ordinance that mandates some employers provide paid sick days for certain employees today. The number of paid sick days would depend on the number of hours an employee worked within a given week, with a cap of either 72 or 40 hours per year, depending on the size of the employer. Thirty hours of work would accrue one hour of paid sick time. Read more here.

Fair Pay for Pennsylvania Women Requires a Fair Minimum Wage

Minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania—mostly women—cannot support themselves and their families on earnings of just $7.25 per hour, or the tipped minimum cash wage of $2.83 per hour. Raise the Wage PA and the PA Campaign for Women’s Health support proposed legislation that would raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour, raise the tipped minimum wage to at least 70 percent of the minimum wage, index these wages to keep up with inflation, and increase penalties for employers who fail to pay workers the wages they are due. Increasing the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage are key steps toward fair pay for women in Pennsylvania. See full fact sheet here.

Marriage Equality

This morning’s Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional marks a victory for love. I can hear the chants outside my window, see it on the faces of my co-workers and feel it in my bones.

When Pennsylvania became the 19th state where same-sex couples could legally marry last year, the federal judge that overturned our state ban wrote that “we are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” Read more here.

Today is the 43rd anniversary of Title IX!

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” – Title IX

Title IX is a comprehensive federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX, established in 1972, is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs, and to provide people effective protection against those practices. Read more here.

HB 1112 Amended: Victory for Female Athletes in PA!

We recently warned you about House Bill 1112, and asked you to take action on behalf of female athletes in Pennsylvania. We’re happy to report that your voices were heard, and the problem has been resolved.

The bill’s stated purpose is to identify unnecessary, burdensome or redundant regulations governing data collection in schools, and then eliminate them. While that sounds reasonable, we noticed that the bill could have been used as a backdoor repeal of a very good law called the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act. You can read more here.

You Are Being Heard: Vote on HB222 Postpone - But We Remain Concerned

On June 5th, we sent you an alert to inform you about a bill that would, if passed, punish women in recovery from drug addiction by withholding food from their families.

In short, House Bill 222 would impose a lifetime ban on benefits for people convicted of felony drug crimes. The ban is not just immoral, it’s ineffective as a deterrent. Prosecutors say refusing to give people in recovery the support to get back on their feet—and in many cases, the ability to support their children while doing so–only increases the likelihood of criminal behavior.

HB 222 also disproportionately affects women. Read more here.

11 "Revenge Porn" Cases in First Six Months of PA's New Law

A law criminalizing a type of digital harassment known as “revenge porn,” an initiative of the Agenda for Women’s Health, passed into law last year. A new analysis by The Tribune-Review reveals that in the first six months the law has been on the books, 11 cases are already underway.

“I don’t know that I want to say I’m encouraged, but I do feel vindicated,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. Schwank championed the legislation last year. Read more...

WLP Announces the Campaign for Women's Health

Women’s Law Project is proud to announce founding membership in the Campaign for Women’s Health, a new statewide coalition formed to change the conversation about women’s health care in Pennsylvania.

For years now in Harrisburg, the phrase ‘women’s health’ has been code for restricting access to safe and legal abortion for poor and working women. The result of substituting sound public health policy for buzzword politics is clear: Pennsylvania consistently ranks abysmally low for women’s health and economic security across all indicators. Read more here. Also check out our Legislative Action page.

Report: Why We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage in PA

By Tara Murtha, WLP Staff

As the Pennsylvania Legislature considers bills to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10, a new report breaks down the big-picture and local benefits of hiking the minimum wage.

Currently, minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25, the lowest amount allowed by federal law since 2009.

Read more here.

If You Don’t Want to Wait Until 2072 For Equal Pay in PA

April 14 is Equal Pay Day.

Why do we need a whole day to draw attention to the problem—and possible solutions—to gender-based wage discrimination? Because if we do nothing other than wait, Pennsylvania women will not earn equal pay until the year 2072. Read more here.

What Young v. UPS Means for Pregnancy Discrimination in PA

The Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion yesterday in the landmark pregnancy discrimination case Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service. At issue is whether or not the company violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978.

In short, the news is good for women. The Supreme Court pushed the case back to a lower court, giving Peggy Young another chance to prove that the company discriminated against her. "We think it's a big win for Peggy Young,” said Samuel Bagenstos, Young's lawyer at the Supreme Court. “We think it's a big win for pregnant workers around the country.” Read more...

Judge Upholds Pittsburgh Buffer Zone

By Tara Murtha

A federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of a 15-foot buffer zone ordinance that protects health care facilities in Pittsburgh. The decision is the first federal ruling on the constitutionality of a clinic buffer zone sinceMcCullen v. Coakleythe Supreme Court case decided last June. Read more...

King v. Burwell: What’s at stake for women in PA?

On March 4th, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the latest attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act.

King v. Burwell is a lawsuit brought by Virginia residents who ultimately hope to strip premium tax credits, also called a subsidy, from people who buy their health insurance through one of the 37 states with federally run exchanges.

Pennsylvania is one such state.

PA Trying to Kill Philadelphia's Paid Earned Sick Days

Last month, Philadelphia became the twentieth city to pass earned sick day legislation.

Today, Pennsylvania lawmakers moved to undo that victory by not only banning every other municipality across the state from mandating earned paid sick leave, but adding an amendment to SB333 specifying the law, if implemented, would retroactively take effect January 1.

Philadelphia passed its ordinance on February 12.

WLP Attorneys: Penn Professors Are Wrong

by Tara Murtha, WLP Staff

Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy, Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson and Staff Attorney Amal Bass, lawyers with extensive experience working with Title IX, the civil law that prohibits discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding, have written an open letter responding to University of Pennsylvania professors’ criticism of their school’s new system for adjudicating sexual assault complaints.
Read more here.

Bad Bill Alert: "Admitting Privileges" Coming to PA

Admitting privilege legislation is the latest trick deployed nationally by opponents of abortion rights to shrink the (already inadequate) number of abortion providers. That’s why it’s been all over the news for months.

Recently, we learned the admitting privilege controversy is coming to Pennsylvania.

The bill will be co-sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp. You may recall Rapp, a member of the Susan B. Anthony National Pro-life Caucus, as a sponsor of Pennsylvania’s mandatory ultrasound bill--an idea ridiculed by professional medical associations. (Then former Governor Corbett advised women endure the medically unnecessary procedure by just closing their eyes, and the entire country wondered what was wrong with Pennsylvania.) The other sponsor is Rep. Bryan Barbin, the Democratic leader of the Pennsylvania House Pro-Life Caucus. Read full blog here. Please help by contacting your state representative now.

Philadelphia Passes Paid Earned Sick Days Bill

Blog by Tara Murtha

We did it! Philadelphia is now the 20th  jurisdiction in the United States to guarantee certain workers the ability to earn paid sick days.

The measure has been passed by City Council twice before, so it’s easy to say the third time’s a charm. But this success is, of course, is the result of a full-court press by advocates who refused to give up. As Ellen Bravo of Family Values at Work wrote earlier today, “This third time has nothing to do with charm and everything to do with smart organizing, grit, and a transformed political landscape.” See full article.

Pittsburgh Introduces Paid Family Leave Bill

Having a child is the single most expensive health event faced by young families. In fact, thirteen percent of families with a new infant become poor within a month, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. See full article.

Roe at 42: the U.S. House Set to Vote on Discriminatory Abortion Restriction

On this day in 1973, the Supreme Court decided the landmark abortion case Roe V. Wade.

Forty-two years later, women’s reproductive rights are being chiseled away as national and state anti-choice lawmakers are proposing, and in many cases passing, abortion restrictions at record levels.
To get a sense of the current climate, the 114th Congress introduced a 20-week ban on their first day in session, and then decided to hold a vote on the bill the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That plan was scuttled last night after several Republican women withdrew support. Read full article and take action.

Federal Lawsuit Targets DHS For Illegally Delaying Health Coverage for 85,000 Pennsylvania Women

Women qualified for full coverage on January 1

Today (January 13), two women’s health organizations and a private citizen filed a federal class action claiming that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is unlawfully delaying the enrollment of tens of thousands of Pennsylvania women into comprehensive Medicaid coverage for which they qualified effective January 1. Go to full press release.

A Road Map for Our New Governor to Improve Women’s Health and Economic Security

By Kate Michelman and Carol E. Tracy

Democratic challenger Tom Wolf defied a national tide and 60 years of Pennsylvania history in defeating incumbent Republican governor Tom Corbett on November 4. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. October polls showed 61 percent of voters believed the state was on the wrong track — as did 100 percent of advocates for women’s health and economic security. It’s little wonder that Tom Wolf won the vote of women by 16 points. Read more here…

Women Against Abuse Names New Safe Haven "Carol's Place" in Honor of WLP Executive Director Carol Tracy

picture of ribbon cutting On Friday, October 24th, advocates from Women Against Abuse in Philadelphia held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate a new safe haven. At the ceremony, Women Against Abuse Executive Director Jeannine Lisitski officially christened the safe haven Carol’s Place, after Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol Tracy. Read full story here.

VICTORY! Bill to Protect Domestic Violence Victims from Eviction Heads to Governor's Desk

We asked for your help, you gave it. We heard about all the phone calls and emails. Now, together, we achieved a huge victory for the rights of domestic violence survivors in Pennsylvania, who can no longer be legally evicted from their homes for calling authorities for help when they need it. Read more about HB 1796!

Women’s Law Project Joins Nationwide Coalition Calling on Department of Justice to Denounce Enhanced Sentence for Pregnant Woman

Women’s Law Project joined New Voices Philadelphia: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, and a coalition of 48 reproductive justice, drug policy reform, women’s rights and civil liberties organizations across the country in sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to renounce enhanced criminal penalties for women on the basis of pregnancy. Read more here or go to the full letter.

Supreme Court Rules That For-Profit Employers Can Refuse to Cover Birth Control

Pennsylvania Women's Advocates Cry Foul

June 30, 2014, Philadelphia, PA – Iin a sharply divided 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., two for-profit businesses employing thousands of women of diverse faiths, could refuse to include coverage of FDA approved contraceptive methods by invoking the companies' religious opposition to birth control.

"Faced with the choice of protecting the religious exercise rights of thousands of women workers or that of private businesses, the Supreme Court sided with the businesses," said Carol Tracy, Executive Director of the Women's Law Project. "Contraception is an essential part of women's health care, and today's ruling is a dramatic setback to the cause of women's health and economic security."

Kate Michelman, Co-Chair of WomenVote PA stated, "As an advocate for women's equality, I was dismayed to see that the majority took pains to make it clear that today's ruling only applies to health care needed by women."
Go to full press release.

WLP Denounces Supreme Court Ruling In Abortion Clinic 'Buffer Zone' Case

Statement by Carol E. Tracy and Kate Michelman

June 26, 2014, Philadelphia, PA – The Women’s Law Project and its civic engagement action arm, WomenVote PA, expressed disappointment in the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous  decision in Eleanor McCullen v. Martha Coakley, which struck down a 35-foot buffer zone at reproductive health clinics in Massachusetts

“Today’s Supreme Court decision, though disturbing, was not sweeping. The decision is narrow and nuanced,” said Carol Tracy, Executive Director of the Women’s Law Project.

“Sadly, the decision also was all but silent about the harassment, intimidation and violence that women entering clinics for constitutionally protected health services face, nor did it take note at all that two women were murdered and five others injured at Massachusetts clinics,” said Kate Michelman, co-chair of WomenVote PA.  Go to full press release.

Gender Equality Wrestling Case Nominated for the International Gender Justice Uncovered Award

The Women’s Law Project and Flaster/Greenberg PC are honored by the nomination of the Beattie v. Line Mountain School District lawsuit for the annual Gender Justice Uncovered Awards. The awards, sponsored by the Women’s Link Worldwide (WLW), draws attention to the state of gender equality around the globe by highlighting legal decisions or statements made in the context of a legal process by judges, prosecutors and others, which have positive or negative impact on gender equality around the globe. See more information.

WLP Files Title IX Complaints Against PA State System Universities

On April 17th, the Women’s Law Project filed complaints with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education against nine members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PSSHE),ask ing OCR to address the historical and ongoing failure of these universities to provide equal athletic opportunity to their female students. The nine universities are Bloomsburg, Cheyney, Clarion, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, and Shippensburg.
See letter to counsel for PSSHE. See Full Press Release.

Court Enters Consent Decree So Pennsylvania Girls Can Wrestle

On April 2, the Women’s Law Project and Flaster/Greenberg P.C. announced the successful resolution of a lawsuit on behalf of a Pennsylvania seventh-grade female student who was denied the opportunity to participate in the Line Mountain School District’s all-male wrestling program, in violation of her constitutional rights. Go to full story. See Consent Decree.

CBS This Morning aired a video segment on Central PA school district getting rid of a rule barring girls from playing school sports with boys.

Philadelphia Enacts Pregnancy Discrimination Law

In Philadelphia, it is now unlawful for an employer to deny a pregnant employee access to water, bathroom breaks, or any other reasonable accommodation that does not present an undue hardship to the employer. On January 20, 2014, Mayor Nutter signed into law an amendment to the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance that makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for needs related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. It is enforced by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. Go to full article.

WLP Comments on Proposed Amendments to the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rules Relating to Second-Parent Adoptions

WLP submitted comments on January 22 on the proposed amendments to the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules as they relate to second-parent adoptions. Historically, WLP has played a pivotal part in advocating for and litigating second-parent adoption rights in Pennsylvania, including our key role in In re R.B.F., 803 A.2d 1195 (Pa. 2002).  Accordingly, we have a longstanding interest in ensuring that the benefits of adoption are equally available to the children of same-sex couples as to the children of opposite-sex couples. See WLP Comments

Women’s Advocates Applaud New Tool to Advance Equality in Girls’ Sports

Press Release: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia—Attorneys from the Women’s Law Project announced that, starting January 16, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Education will publicly post on its website the first completed athletic equity reports submitted in the fall of 2013 by public high schools, junior highs, and middle schools.  The Department’s website can be found at http://www.pde.state.pa.us. These reports, required by the Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Act, provide a snapshot of how school athletic programs treat female athletes by revealing the number of athletic opportunities available to girls and expenditures on school sports by team. See full press release.

ACLU and WLP Take Action on Behalf of Woman Denied Right to Pump Breast Milk at Work

Forced to Pump in Unsanitary Conditions and Endure Harassment from Colleagues

PITTSBURGH – A Port Allegany glass factory worker asserts in a civil complaint and an EEOC charge filed today that she was discriminated against and harassed because she needed to pump breast milk at work following the birth of her child.

Bobbi Bockoras is a factory worker at the Saint Gobain Verallia glass factory. When she returned to work after the birth of her child and requested a place to pump breast milk, she was only provided with rooms that were either unsanitary or insufficiently private, and was subjected to harassment by her coworkers. After she complained, she was moved from the day shift to a rotating schedule that frequently requires her to work an overnight shift, which has disrupted her ability to breastfeed or produce enough milk for her baby. See Press Release.

U.S. Census Confirms Wage Gap Hasn't Budged - Stuck at 23 Cents!

The U.S. Census confirmed that the wage gap hasn’t budged – not even one penny! Women working full time are paid just 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. And the wage gap is far worse for women of color. So now what?

Women’s Law Project and ACLU fight for domestic partner benefits for Pittsburgh teacher

The Women’s Law Project has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh attorney Fred Goldsmith to challenge the refusal of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) to provide domestic partner benefits to employees with same-sex partners. (Go to Blog Post, Complaint, and Press Release)

The Third Circuit’s “I Heart Boobies” Ruling is a Win for Young Women

In B.H. v. Easton Area School District, issued on August 5, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld an injunction on the school district’s ban of “I ♥ boobies” breast cancer awareness bracelets. In this precedential decision, the Court acknowledges that student speech related to political or social issues receives First Amendment protection under the United States Constitution, even if that speech contains language that some people may consider lewd. (Read full blog post.)

Equal Pay Today Button

50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act
Equal Pay Today!

Fifteen national and state-based women’s rights legal organizations are marking the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 with the launch of the Equal Pay Today! Campaign. Read more about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign and what you can do.

Victory for Domestic Abuse Survivors: Women’s Law Project Scores Win in Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has affirmed that the General Assembly meant what it clearly stated when it adopted a law in 2006 requiring insurers to pay claims to innocent victims whose homes and automobiles are damaged by the intentional acts of their abusive spouses. See Opinion and more.

New Policy Brief: Advocacy to Improve Police Response to Sex Crimes

The Women’s Law Project started advocating to improve police response to sex crimes in 1999 when it led the reform of police practice in Philadelphia.  Our newly published Policy Brief (February 2013) describes the innovative strategies we have pursued at both the local and national level. See more resources covering Rape & Sexual Assault.