Fall 2014 Update

In this issue:

Distinguished Speaker Series with Erwin Chemerinsky
Join us as UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky returns to discuss “The Supreme Court and Women’s Rights”

Ninth Circuit Victory on Sweetwater 
CWLC celebrates another Title IX victory

Legislative Session Wrap Up
California legislation continues to make great strides for women and girls

Reproductive Justice Coaltion of Los Angeles Hobby Lobby Protest
CWLC Staff and Board Member raise awareness in Burbank

CWLC Welcomes Laura Riley
We are proud to welcome Laura to our team

Executive Director’s Message

This November, CWLC will mark the first anniversary of our Distinguished Guest Speaker Series with the return of UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.  On November 5th, please join us at Planned Parenthood for another engaging evening with Dean Chemerinsky where he will address the impact of recent US Supreme Court decisions including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby as well as the recent publication of his eighth book, The Case Against the Supreme Court.  I hope to see you then.

We also continue to make progress in our ongoing Title IX litigation, securing another victory in our Sweetwater case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Ninth Circuit ruled in our favor affirming the lower court’s ruling that the Sweetwater Union High School District violated Title IX.

The 2014 legislative session concluded with the passage of several important new protections for women and girls. Governor Jerry Brown signed seven of the bills CWLC actively supported this term on topics ranging from increased access to reproductive healthcare to the codification of affirmative consent in response to the ongoing sexual assault crisis on our state’s college campuses.

We are pleased to welcome Laura Riley, our new Staff Attorney, who has a public interest law background with expertise in the areas of health, disability rights and employment law.  We are delighted to have her join our team!

And, congratulations to Lois Thompson, CWLC Board President, for being acknowledged by MALDEF at their 2014 Los Angeles Awards Gala.  Lois is being honored for her work in partnership with MALDEF to ensure the students of Arizona’s Tuscon Unified School District (TUSD) have equal opportunities to succeed in the classroom.  For several years, Lois has fought discrimination against Latino students and held TUSD accountable to it’s court-ordered desegregation plan.  Thank you, Lois, for your unwavering commitment to justice.

With gratitude and appreciation,

Betsy Butler

Upcoming Event: Distinguished Speaker Series with Erwin Chemerinsky

CWLC is proud to welcome back UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky as he discusses “The Supreme Court and Women’s Rights” at our upcoming Distinguished Guest Speaker Series. Dean Chemerisnky was our inaugural guest speaker so we are excited to have him back to mark the first anniversary of our series which last year featured California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and David Codell the Constitutional Litigation Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

On November 5th, Dean Chemerinsky will be joining us at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles following the recent release of his eighth book, The Case Against the Supreme Court. In addition to being a prolifically published author with over 200 articles in top law reviews and frequent op-eds in national publications, Chemerinsky regularly argues cases before our nation’s highest courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In recognition of this outstanding work, this year National Jurist magazine named him the most influential person in legal education in the United States.

Ninth Circuit Victory on Sweetwater

CWLC along with our partners at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC) and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, are excited to share another victory in our Title IX class action suit at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

This September, the Ninth Circuit awarded a class of female athletes, represented by CWLC and our co-counsel, a decisive victory in Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District. Filed in 2007, the U.S. District Court Judge found that the School District had violated Title IX by failing to provide the plaintiffs with equal athletic opportunities, treatment and benefits, including equitable access to facilities, coaching and publicity, and that the School District unlawfully retaliated against the female student athletes for filing the lawsuit and asserting their civil rights under Title IX. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s rulings in their entirety.

“I am so happy to have played a role in ensuring that other young women will have a fair opportunity to participate in athletic programs at their schools and experience the same growing sense of pride, self-respect and confidence that I did from playing competitive sports,” said Veronica Ollier, one of the student plaintiffs in the case.

Click here to read our press release.


Cathy Kim Hobby Lobby Protest Resized for email

CWLC Board Secretary Cathy Kim and Development Manager Laura Herrera participate in Hobby Lobby protest.

Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles Hobby Lobby Protest

On October 11, the Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles (RJCLA) held a protest at the Hobby Lobby store in Burbank, California to raise awareness about the serious impact of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. CWLC’s Board Secretary Cathy Kim and Development Manager Laura Herrera were joined by more than 20 other protestors from the ACLU of Southern California, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles and Hollywood NOW along with other RJCLA supporters. Our Laura Herrera also helped plan and organize the demonstration in hopes that our effort, and similar events across the country, will underscore a woman’s right to safe reproductive and health care access.

Click here to read LA Progressive coverage of the event.

End of Legislative Session Wrap Up

We are pleased to share that the California state legislative session ended on a positive note for women and girls in California as Governor Jerry Brown signed several bills focused on increased legal protections and support.

Most notably, the Governor signed bills written to prevent sexual assault and assist survivors, put in place protections for female employees and preserve a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions.

The bills we prioritized this session include Senate Bill 1053 (Mitchell) which ensures women have access to the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods, Assembly Bill 1517 (Skinner) put in place guidelines to make sure rape kits are processed in a timely manner, AB 1522 (Gonzalez) guarantees a minimum of three paid sick days for workers and Senate Bill 967 (De Leon), commonly know as the “yes-means-yes” bill, defines affirmative consent and requires colleges and universities to educate students about consent laws and sexual assault.

Other important bills signed by Governor Brown this year include:
· Assembly Bill 1443 (Skinner) extends basic workplace protections against sex discrimination and harassment to unpaid interns.
· Assembly Bill 2350 (Bonilla) strengthens and clarifies existing protections provided to pregnant students under Title IX including the right to take a leave of absence without loosing their spot in their graduate program, the right to reasonable accommodations and the right to attend any and all classes offered by their college.
· Senate Bill 1135 (Jackson) prohibits sterilization as a form of birth control for women confined in California correctional facilities and enacts critical safeguards that properly monitor and restrict sterilization procedures to those that are medically needed or necessary and where consent is properly obtained.
· Senate Bill 1349 (Jackson) strengthens Title IX enforcement in elementary and secondary schools to ensure that girls have the same opportunities to participate in competitive sports as boys by requiring schools to report on sports participation rates by gender.

Click here to read our press release.

CWLC Welcomes Laura Riley

CWLC is excited to introduce our new Staff Attorney, Laura Riley, who has been working as a public interest attorney primarily in the areas of health, disability rights and employment law. Most recently, Laura worked for plaintiff-side employment firms and has also worked at the Disability Rights Legal Center. She served as a clerk for Judge Patrick Robinson, head of the joint appellate court for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. During law school, Laura externed for Judge Dean Pregerson and has assisted the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, The Wage Justice Center and the National Immigration Law Center. She is a Barristers Liaison to the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section. A graduate of USC Law School, she received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College.

Thank You CWLC Board Members and Supporters for Assisting Those in Need

In partnership with Holy Helping Hands, CWLC collected and donated 30 new and gently used handbags filled with personal items to support Handbags of Hope, a program that provides basic necessities, support and advocacy to victims of domestic and sexual violence. Each handbag is a starting point for women in need of assistance due to trauma and is an important component of a program promoting healthy and safe environments for survivors of assault and their children.  In particular, we would like to thank Laura Petroff and her colleagues at Winston & Strawn, Samantha Caldwell, Lois Thompson and Mira El Sonbaty for going above and beyond in their incredible effort to secure donations. For more information about Holy Helping Hands, please visit their website at www.holyhelpinghands.org.

Legal Aid Association of California Training and Outreach

In October, CWLC participated in the Legal Aid Association of California’s (LAAC) training which addressed the multiple and often interconnected legal issue areas currently impacting women veterans, particularly those with a history of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to Military Sexual Trauma (MST).  Our Senior Staff Attorney Cacilia Kim presented “Legal Issues Impacting Women Veterans” with Elizabeth Kristen of the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.  The training was held in Fresno, California and focused on a variety of topics, including legal standards in military medical fitness hearings, legal barriers to housing, disability benefits, employment and health care needs.

High School Senior Remains on Track to Graduate

A senior at a Los Angeles area high school was able to take a temporary leave of absence after giving birth this summer and remains on track to graduate due to CWLC’s direct intervention. Our partners at the Alliance for Children’s Rights brought to our attention the need for CWLC involvement after learning the school neglected to provide the student with necessary coursework.  With guidance from CWLC, the school made reasonable accommodations and the student was able to keep up with her schoolwork from home. We remain committed to supporting pregnant and parenting students and ensuring that everyone has access to an education no matter what reproductive health choices they make.   We want to hear from you!

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