Category Archives: Uncategorized

What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Fair Treatment Under the Law

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Editor’s note: This is the first blog post in “Working Families, a Reality Series” by Women’s Bureau Director Latifa Lyles exploring issues that affect women and families in the 21st-century workplace.

Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that Triple T Foods, a pet food processor in Arkansas, will pay a $30,000 settlement to a former employee for a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in which the employee got fired on the day she announced she was pregnant.

Here we are, 36 years after the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and some employers still view child-bearing and employment as mutually exclusive activities.

The Women’s Bureau recently posted a series of charts with data about mothers and families on our website, and the numbers show that being a mother in the workforce is increasingly the norm. It is not surprising that the vast majority of mothers – 7 out of 10 – work, and women are the sole or primary financial support for their families now more than ever. What’s more, over two-thirds of women work during their first pregnancy. Yet, pregnancy discrimination persists in many forms, in all stages of employment – hiring, firing and promotion – and in all stages of pregnancy.

Employment protections for workers who are pregnant or nursing:

Map of pregnancy discrimination laws in the United States
Map of pregnancy discrimination laws in the U.S.

Click on the map to learn about pregnancy discrimination laws by state.

Cases like…

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Disability Rights are Civil Rights

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President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Earlier this month, we as a nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just minutes before putting pen to paper on that historic day, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on television to address the nation, articulating the law’s fundamental purpose: to create a better, more inclusive society for all Americans.

“Those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning,” he said in his address, going on to acknowledge the many leaders, both black and white, who worked tirelessly to get what he often referred to as “an American bill” onto his desk.

At the time, I was 5 years old and 3,000 miles away in southern California, doing the typical things 5-year-olds do. But, there were others older than me listening who took those words to heart in a way that would have a profound impact on my life. In the 1960s, the unified disability rights movement was just emerging, and its leaders learned a great deal from those who brought the Civil Rights Act to fruition.

Twenty-six years later, those leaders found themselves at the White House looking on as another president signed landmark civil rights legislation renewing and enlarging America’s ideal of equality — the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which was authorized by President George H.W. Bush on July 26,…

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Job Corps is My Calling

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Editor’s note: As we continue to post Job Corps stories in honor of its 50th anniversary, we want to hear from you. Submit your story through our Web form here − or share on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #JobCorps50.

Anne Marie Scheer drives 106 miles round trip daily to attend classes at the Muhlenberg Job Corps Center. It’s an extraordinary signal of her commitment to her future. At 25, she is juggling child-care responsibilities with the time she needs to complete her training for launch her career. Anne Marie has successfully completed the Heavy Equipment Operators and Construction Equipment Mechanics courses, and is now working to complete the truck driving course before transferring to advanced mechanics training.

Muhlenberg Job Corps Center sign
Center sign

As a longtime Job Corps center director who has counseled hundreds of students, I can say that Anne’s dedication to her career goals is amazing. She continues to work harder and harder to reach each new level of training.

It’s students like Anne Marie that inspire me and my fellow Job Corps center directors. They keep us focused on the transformational potential of this program, even when the deep structural injustices that we see every day weigh on us. The Muhlenberg campus has proudly served more than 16,000 students since it opened in 1973. Many of these students, like Anne Marie, are and have been exceptional — serving as role models, even though they often don’t appreciate their…

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Women in Trades: An Apprenticeship Success Story

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Editor’s note: The following guest post is authored by Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. Executive Director Connie Ashbrook, who participated in a panel on STEM and nontraditional jobs at the White House Summit on Working Families in June. View the panel here, and share your apprenticeship success story with us on Twitter by tagging @USDOL.

Deawendoe “Dee” St. Martin came to Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. a hard worker with a gift for fixing things. She sought out OTI’s state-certified pre-apprenticeship training program because she wanted a lifelong career that would allow her to support her four children.

Over the course of OTI’s seven-week Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class, Dee and the other 22 women in her cohort learned construction basics from experienced tradeswomen. In addition to studying construction math and measurement, practicing how to properly use hand and power tools, and being educated about communication and safety on the job site, they learned some of the most valuable skills necessary for a successful trades apprenticeship: construction culture and working productively to industry standards.

Deawendoe “Dee” St. Martin
Deawendoe “Dee” St. Martin

After completing OTI’s pre-apprenticeship class, Dee applied for and was accepted into the Oregon Laborers Apprenticeship, a Registered Apprenticeship program with rigorous physical requirements. She often practiced late into the night on her own to develop the muscle and technical skills needed to pass…

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Will Workers’ Compensation Adapt to “On Demand” Employment

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What happens as machines and artificial intelligence push humans out of the workforce? It’s one of the more important problems of our time — theoretical as it may seem in some sectors today — as technology makes industry after industry more efficient.

One of the most important tech overlords, Google CEO Larry Page, thinks most people want to work, but they’d be happy working less.

Page’s take: We have enough resources to provide for humanity. “The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true,” Page said, in an interview at a private event put on by the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures that was just released online.

In fact, today humanity does dumb things like destroy the environment, in part because people work when they don’t have to, Page contended.

The answer isn’t to just cut jobs en masse, Page said. People want to feel “needed, wanted and have something productive to do.” But most everyone would like a little more time off. So perhaps one solution would be to split up part-time work between people, as Page said Richard Branson is experimenting with in the UK.

Page’s co-founder Sergey Brin had a slightly different take. “I do think that a lot of the things that people do have been, over the past century, replaced by machines and will continue to be,” Brin said. But after Page opined about his idea of “slightly less…

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States Lead On Minimum Wage. Is Congress Listening?

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Congress is back in session this week, and if members have been listening to their constituents they will move quickly to raise the federal minimum wage, which has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power since the 1980s. But absent action from Capitol Hill, states are taking up the slack.

In March, President Obama and I visited Central Connecticut State University with four New England governors who are leading the charge to reward hard work with a fair wage. Three weeks after our visit, Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut signed a bill raising Connecticut’s minimum wage. And in the last month alone, Govs. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and − as recently as last Wednesday − Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island have followed suit.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage, at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, March 5, 2014. The President is joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
President Obama in Connecticut

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, March 5, 2014. He is joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

These state leaders are answering the call of low-wage workers who want nothing more than the dignity of being able to support their families, men and women who have to make heartbreaking decisions every day about which bill to pay or which meal to skip. These governors and their legislatures are also listening…

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Court Rules that Telecommuting Could Be Reasonable Accommodation under the ADA

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Today’s post is authored by Johnn Geaney, a member of the NJ Bar and a Shareholder at Capehart Scatchard and shared from

Telecommuting is a trend that is rapidly growing in the United States, and telecommuting requests are also on the rise as a potential reasonable accommodation under the ADA. A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7502 (6 Cir. 2014) illustrates how difficult it can be for an employer to oppose a request for telecommuting.

Jane Harris was hired in 2003 by Ford as a resale buyer, serving as an intermediary between steel suppliers and “stampers,” which are companies that use steel to produce parts for Ford. Her job was to respond to emergency supply issues to ensure no gap in steel supply to parts manufacturers. The most important part of the job was group problem solving, requiring that a buyer be available to interact with members of the resale team, suppliers and others in the Ford system when problems arose.

Harris suffered from IBS, an illness that caused her fecal incontinence. Some days she could not drive to work or stand up from her desk without potentially soiling herself. She took intermittent leave when severe symptoms occurred. In 2005, her supervisor allowed her to work from home on a flex-time telecommuting schedule on a trial basis. The company did not view the trial period as a success. She continued to work occasionally from home doing remote work,…

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Facebook Required to Turn Over User Information in Disability-Fraud Investigation

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The Manhattan district attorney has won a legal battle against Facebook Inc. with a New York judge’s ruling that the social network was required to turn over user information in a fraud investigation.

When workers who filed for federal disability money were seen on Facebook looking perfectly healthy, the Manhattan district attorney received a search warrant from a judge to look more closely at the accounts.

Facebook had attempted to quash the warrants for 381 user accounts on grounds that they were unconstitutional and in violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

After reviewing the search-warrant application, the judge found “probable cause that evidence of criminality would be found within the subject Facebook accounts,” and ordered Facebook to comply.

The district attorney’s office said the case led to 134 indictments on more than $400 million in fraud, and that half the defendants have pleaded guilty.

“This was a massive scheme involving as many as 1,000 people who defrauded the federal government,” said Joan Vollero, spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “The defendants in this case repeatedly lied to the government about their mental, physical, and social capabilities. Their Facebook accounts told a different story,” she said.

The judge in the case said Facebook had no right to get in the way of the investigation.

“Facebook could best be…

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Social Security Agency Cuts Services as Demand Grows, Senate Report Says

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WASHINGTON — The Social Security Administration is closing field offices and reducing services to the public even as demand for those services surges with the aging of the baby boom generation, according to a bipartisan Senate committee report.

The report, to be issued Wednesday by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, says the agency has closed more than two dozen field offices in the last year, generally without considering the needs of communities and without consulting beneficiaries or field office managers.

In deciding whether to close field offices, the Social Security Administration “excludes both its own managers and the affected public,” and the decisions often appear arbitrary, the report says.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said, “Seniors are not being served well when you arbitrarily close offices and reduce access to services.”

He added, “The closure process is neither fair nor transparent and needs to change.”

The field offices served over 43 million people last year. About 10 percent of the visitors filed for benefits, and 30 percent were seeking new or replacement Social Security cards.

In testimony prepared for a committee hearing on the issue on Wednesday, Nancy A. Berryhill, a deputy commissioner at the agency, said its budget and work force had not kept pace with what she described as “a staggering 27 percent increase” in claims for retirement benefits, to 3.3…

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Closing the Income Inequality Gap

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Editor’s note: The following guest post is authored by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. Join the conversation about this issue on Twitter using #RaiseTheWage.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

San Francisco is the most progressive city in America when it comes to addressing income inequality. And we will continue to make sure San Francisco remains a city affordable to the 100 percent.

President Obama understands that income inequality remains one of the great challenges of our time, and I’ve supported his efforts to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. There is no better time than right now to take action. As jobs and confidence are coming back, we must make sure that the residents in our cities are not left behind in the economic recovery.

Last week in my city, legislators, business leaders, labor unions and workers’ rights representatives joined me to introduce a fair and responsible consensus measure for the November 2014 ballot that will significantly raise San Francisco’s minimum wage. The rising cost of living is putting a financial squeeze on our city’s hardest working families, and this is a measure that will help them make ends meet. It’s the right thing to do.

We have taken up the president’s call to address income inequality at the local level – not just in my city, but in other cities across the nation. But we cannot leave anyone behind. That’s why I’ve introduced a resolution to be…

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