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Shortly after the election, the attorneys and advocates who work at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) started having a conversation.
It seemed that the incoming Trump administration was likely to move backward on enforcing civil rights, loosening regulations, and dropping enforcement.
It was “something we can do that is really concrete at a moment that we really worried that our civil rights protections and the enforcement of our landmark laws were at grave risk,” Goss Graves said.
“Now is the time to be aggressive.” The administration has since proved that their fears were well founded.
The nonprofit just publicly announced its answer: The creation of the first national legal network focused on combating sex discrimination in the workplace, schools, and health care.
The newly created Legal Network for Gender Equity already consists of 75 attorneys from across the country who plan to take on sex discrimination cases.
Their phones were also ringing off the hook from private practice attorneys who wanted to help make a difference after the election.
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So the new legal network will attempt to help fill the gaping hole left when the government decides to turn away from enforcing women’s rights, an attempt to “try to step into the breach that’s being created,” Martin said.
The network will act as a hub, fielding calls from people who say they have experienced sex discrimination, and then putting them in touch with nearby attorneys who might be able to take on the cases. 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.
They started “to think about the many concrete ways people are harmed when our civil rights enforcement agencies shift priorities, cut back, change positions,” said Fatima Goss Graves, the organization’s president and CEO.
Yet at the same time, they were getting an uptick in calls from women reporting harassment and discrimination.