CWLC’s Fall Update


Thank you for supporting the California Women’s Law Center and our work to ensure equality and fairness for women and girls across the state. California continues to make great strides to improve economic and educational opportunities for women and girls and we are excited about continued efforts to create and sustain healthy and more meaningful pathways for women.

Building on the excitement of our annual Pursuit of Justice lunch in June where we honored equal pay champions Dolores Huerta, Lilly Ledbetter and Peg Yorkin, I was thrilled to participate in Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of SB 358, California’s Fair Pay Act, authored by Hannah-Beth Jackson. The Fair Pay Act requires that employees are paid an equal amount for substantially similar work and allows employees to discuss their pay with co-workers without fear of retaliation by employers.  Equality and transparency are incredibly important and necessary changes in attaining pay equity. With the passage of SB 358, California continues to lead the way on workers’ rights and matters addressing the needs of women and families.

But we still have much more work to do. CWLC recognized Latina Equal Pay Day on October 30. Because Latinas in California only make 44 cents, on average, to every dollar a white male makes, Latina Equal Pay Day marks the number of days a Latina in the Golden State must work into the year to make what a white male made last year. This year Latinas worked 201 days into the year to earn an equal amount as white men. This has to change. Our families’ lives are counting on it.

CWLC is also addressing the disparities faced by women who are incarcerated. This summer, we held a Speaker Series discussing the needs of women who are behind bars and prioritized strategies to ensure a safer, more successful justice system in California. Prison reform advocate Scott Budnick joined us as well as Heidi Rummel from the USC Post-Conviction Justice Project, Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald, Patricia Soung from Loyola Law School’s Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, and Norma Cumpian, for a discussion about the impediments to success for those who are or have been incarcerated. Sexual assault and violence play an enormous role in the lives of women who are behind bars and CWLC continues to prioritize its work to end all forms of violence against women.

With Veterans Day fast approaching, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice our dedicated service members have made to ensure our freedom. CWLC remains committed to the needs of our veterans. We know you share our appreciation for those who have served and our commitment to addressing their needs when we welcome them home.

It’s been an inspiring year so far and CWLC congratulates our allies on the legislative and policy advances we fought for and won this year. It is exciting to be a part of and see positive change take place. We thank you for supporting the California Women’s Law Center and our mission to pursue justice for women and girls.

In peace,

Betsy Butler
Executive Director


Friday, November 6, 2015 – CWLC Staff Attorney Laura Riley speaks at UCLA’s Sexual Assault and the Campus: The Role of Title IX Conference

CWLC Title IX Webinars: Gender Discrimination in Education – Please join us for the second webinar in our three-part training series for attorneys, advocates and people interested in learning more about how they can help end discrimination in our schools:

Monday, November 16, 2015 – Title IX, Part 2: The Rights of Pregnant and Parenting Students


A Big Win for Equal Pay.  The Governor Approves SB 358, The California Fair Pay Act!

Governor Brown signs SB 358 at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National ParkOn October 6, Governor Brown signed SB 358 or the Fair Pay Act, a historic bill which seeks to ensure women are paid an equal wage for “substantially similar” work (even if they have different job titles). SB 358 also allows co-workers to discuss their compensation without fear of retaliation from employers. 

CWLC Executive Director, Betsy Butler, was thrilled to be invited to attend and participate in the Governor’s signing ceremony at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park in Richmond, California, where champions for equal pay celebrated this achievement with the bill’s author, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. 

In Los Angeles, CWLC Staff Attorney Laura Riley was interviewed by CBS and Telemundo about the importance of this new legislation and what it means for employees and employers. The passage of this bill solidifies California’s role as the nation’s leader in the effort to secure equal pay for women.

Photo: Governor Brown signs SB 358 at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park – Photo credit: Joe McHugh, California Highway Patrol

CWLC’s Distinguished Guest Speaker Series

Incarcerated Women and Girls

On September 2, 2015, CWLC’s Distinguished Guest Speaker Series discussed California’s corrections system and the unique needs of incarcerated women and girls. Hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the discussion focused on ways we can work together to address some of the realities of incarceration and ensure people re-entering the community have the resources they need to lead successful lives.

Scott Budnick, the Founder and President of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), opened the evening addressing specific challenges incarcerated youth and young adults face when they navigate the corrections system. He also discussed two bills that ARC sponsored and were signed into law by Governor Brown this year. SB 261, by Senator Loni Hancock, extends eligibility for a youth offender’s parole hearing for inmates who were under the age of 23 at the time of their crime and were sentenced to a lengthy or life sentence. SB 382, by Senator Ricardo Lara, clarifies existing criteria used by judges when determining whether a minor should be tried in either juvenile or adult court.

Heidi Rummel, a Clinical Professor at the USC Gould School of Law and the Director of the Post-Conviction Justice Project, moderated the panel and spoke about her experience working with Norma Cumpian who also spoke at the event. Norma was released on parole in 2010 after spending 18 years in prison. Norma shared how domestic violence contributed to the situation that ultimately put her behind bars, and her journey to restore control over her life and become an advocate for others.

Patricia Soung, of the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School, noted “It is a given that all of my female clients have experienced abuse at some point in their life. It’s just a matter of time as to when they wish to share their experience. Too often women and girls feel the need to protect their perpetrator.” Patricia also noted, “A lack of self-esteem is the core issue that leads to the event where young people are sentenced to imprisonment.”

Terri McDonald, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Assistant Sheriff of Custody Operations, discussed the value of treatment programs for incarcerated women. McDonald also noted the importance of supporting legislation like California’s “Ban the Box” law, which went into effect in 2014 and prohibits public sector employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal background until the applicant has cleared early stages of the hiring process. 

Unfortunately, many Californians are still unable to obtain employment, certain professional licenses, and rental housing because of their criminal records. McDonald also emphasized the importance of allowing incarcerated parents more frequent and effective ways to spend time with their children: “The glass window barrier often creates more psychological harm than good.”

Our panelists discussed how prisons and jails are often traumatic environments, especially for those who are struggling to recover from violent pasts. The programs offered by organizations like ARC and other volunteer and service providers often play a vital role in giving incarcerated people hope for a better life.

Photo: Scott Budnick, opens the Incarcerated Women and Girls panel discussion with Heidi Rummel at the Feminist Majority Foundation

CWLC at Planned Parenthood’s #PinkOut Day

On September 29, CWLC  was proud to participate in the #PinkOut rally on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall while the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, spoke in a congressional hearing about the importance of keeping Planned Parenthood funded in California and across the country.

Photo: CWLC staff Betsy Butler and Alejandra Rosales at Los Angeles City Hall on #PinkOutDay

CWLC Kicks off its Title IX Training Series

Gender Discrimination in Education

On October 21, CWLC’s Staff Attorney Laura Riley, and Program and Outreach Director Kamilah Willingham, presented the first of CWLC’s three-part webinar series, Title IX, Part 1: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in Schools.

The webinar examined the scope of Title IX and addressed schools’ responsibilities for preventing and responding to sexual harassment and sexual assault, the remedies available to students whose schools are in violation using caselaw and real-life examples of the law’s implementation and the effects of its lack of enforcement.

The next webinar will focus on the Rights of Pregnant and Parenting Students and will take place on November 16, 2015. The third webinar will address Equality in High School Athletic Programs and take place in December 2015.

Civil rights attorneys, education advocates and people interested in learning more about how they can help end discrimination in our schools should join us for this free training. Register here.

CWLC Releases a Report Card for Los Angeles County Schools

The California Women’s Law Center with ACLU of Southern California and BreastfeedLA released a report card showing that 68 of Los Angeles County’s 81 school districts received a grade of “C” or worse, and 21 received an”F” or “F-minus” when it came to accommodating lactating students who wanted to pump their breast milk or feed their babies at school. The Torrance Unified School District is the only district to receive an “A.”

In October, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 302 which requires schools to provide students and employees with accommodations allowing them to breastfeed after giving birth.

“We hope this report will provide support on how to implement Title IX and other lactation accommodation requirements so that women and girls have equal access in the educational context,” said Laura Riley, Staff Attorney at the California Women’s Law Center.

Read the entire press release here.

How CWLC Spent Women’s Equality Day

CWLC proudly co-sponsored West Hollywood’s 2015 Women’s Equality Day, an event commemorating the 95th anniversary of the day American women won the right to vote with the passing of the 19th amendment. Program and Outreach Director Kamilah Willingham represented CWLC at the event and tabled with allied organizations including Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and the National Organization for Women’s Hollywood chapter.

Photo: CWLC Program and Outreach Director Kamilah Willingham with Gloria Allred

CWLC Participates in the California Workplace Justice Summit

CWLC Executive Director, Betsy Butler, participated in panel discussions at the Workplace Justice Summit at Loyola Law School. The Summit brought together government leaders, workers’ rights advocates, employer organizations, prosecutors and law enforcement officials to coordinate efforts to fight workplace abuse and wage theft, discrimination and gender pay disparity, human trafficking, workplace violence and retaliation.

In partnership with the California Labor Commission and the California Commission on the Status of Women, the Summit celebrated gains in workers’ rights like SB 358 and underscored the ongoing need for collaboration among those in attendance to address outstanding issues of abuse and inequality for California workers.

Photo: Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez, Executive Director of the California Commission on the Status of Women, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Betsy Butler at the Workplace Justice Summit

CWLC participates in CSULA’s Clothesline Project and LAAC Training, S.T.O.P. Teen Dating Violence

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in recognition of CWLC’s legal expertise in eliminating violence, Laura Riley presented a “Know Your Rights” training with Angela McNair Turner, Staff Attorney at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice as part of Cal State LA’s Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project was a program initially started in 1990 in Massachusetts to address the issue of violence against women. 

Cal State L.A.’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center invited Laura to give the “Know Your Rights” training as an extension of this project for students wanting to understand dating violence, sexual harassment and assault on campus, and their rights within the educational context.

CWLC Staff Attorney Laura Riley and CWLC Intern Stephanie Rector presented S.T.O.P. Teen Dating Violence, a webinar with Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) which discussed schools’ legal responsibilities to address teen dating violence, as well as model policies that schools can adopt. The webinar provided rule of law and policy updates enacted since the first 2010 training on this topic.

CWLC Supports Peace Over Violence’s Annual Humanitarian Awards

The California Women’s Law Center joined over 300 guests committed to Peace Over Violence’s mission of building communities free from domestic and sexual violence at POV’s 44th Annual Humanitarian awards. This event honors important partners in the fight for healthy relationships and raises funds to ensure that survivors can continue accessing the multitude of resources POV provides.

Photo: CWLC staff Betsy Butler, Kamilah Willingham and Alejandra Rosales at the Peace Over Violence Annual Humanitarian Awards.


CWLC Advocacy

The 2014 Legislative Session

During this legislative session, CWLC sent letters of support for a number of bills that prevent discrimination against pregnant students, improve access to contraceptive coverage, strengthen Title IX to mandate gender equity in all school programs, and support equal pay.  Thank you to the many CWLC supporters who also sent letters of support through CWLC’s legislative petitions webpage.

Click here to view our legislative advocacy webpage and the outcome of each piece of 2015 legislation CWLC supported. 

In order for the California Women’s Law Center to advocate, provide legal services, and conduct educational trainings on behalf of women and girls, we rely on your support.  Any donation you can make is greatly appreciated.

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About the California Women’s Law Center – Since its founding in 1989, the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) has worked to eliminate the barriers that keep women and girls in poverty. CWLC advances the potential of women and girls through transformative litigation, policy advocacy and education.  CWLC is a leader in Title IX education and enforcement in California at the high school level and advocates for the unique needs of women veterans. For more information, visit