Equality and Liberty

  • January 25, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and founding director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law - University Park

    Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy implemented in 2012 that to date has enabled nearly 800,000 people who came to the United States before the age of sixteen, establish the requisite residence, physical presence and educational requirements to request a form of prosecutorial discretion known as “deferred action.” Originating from a rule published by the Reagan administration in 1981, grantees of deferred action may request work authorization if they can establish “economic necessity.” After receiving work authorization, the type of work a DACA recipient may enter is unrestricted, enabling one to pursue a job in a variety of sectors. DACA recipients with college degrees in a high-demand field are eligible to work in the area of their study and often do.   

  • January 24, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Muriel Bowser, Mayor, Washington, DC

    Amid the much-needed and continuing conversation on sexual harassment across the country, my team and I undertook a deeply introspective and forward-looking review of the District of Columbia’s sexual harassment policy.

    The Challenge. I hope that our policy and program of trainings, reporting, and remediation inspire action by other cities, corporations, universities, law firms, non-profit organizations, and other governmental employers. Indeed, I challenge other leaders to create a culture of respect, to rearticulate norms against sexual harassment, to empower their workforces to report unwanted and harassing sexual conduct, and to establish effective remedies for sexual harassment. While sexual harassment does not only victimize women, taking strong action to combat harassment will in turn help to empower women, a cause near and dear to my heart.

    On December 18, 2017, I signed an updated Mayor’s Order on sexual harassment that clearly defines sexual harassment, reporting, protections, defenses, and available training. While grounded on principles found within the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977, this new policy is in line with current laws, technology, culture, and workplace dynamics. All District Government employees have received a copy of this policy and clear guidance that sexual harassment is strictly prohibited in District government.

  • January 22, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Julie A. Werner-Simon, is a former federal prosecutor  

    *Reprinted with permission of LA Daily Journal, 1-10-18

    When a new pope is selected by the assemblage of cardinals at the Vatican, the papal conclave releases white smoke into the sky. There are no smoke signals at the U.S. Supreme Court, but if one had a good sense of smell on Monday, the scent of cake appeared to be wafting from the neoclassical edifice at 1 First Street. The Supreme Court rejected two petitions challenging the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ upholding of a Mississippi law that permits businesses, religious organizations and government employees (as well as other organizations and individuals) to refuse service to gay people, to people who identify with a gender other than that with which they were born, as well as people of any gender who have sexual relations outside of marriage. Barber v. Bryant, 17-547 and Campaign for Southern Equality v.  Bryant, 17-642. 

  • January 14, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Gregg Ivers, professor of government, American University. He is currently working on a book, Swingin’ at Jim Crow: How Jazz Became a Civil Rights Movement.

    In 1976, when I was in tenth grade, the dreaded “back-to-school” assignment for my American history class was to write an essay about the three most important Americans in our nation’s two hundred-year history. This was, I suppose, our school’s nod to the celebration of the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence. I chose Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. It turned out that I was one of two people in my class to include King, the other being the class hippie, whose other two choices were Alan Ginsburg and Jimi Hendrix. My teacher returned the assignment to me the next day and said that I needed to write about someone “serious,” like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or, and I kid you not, the Rev. Billy Graham. I told my teacher that I would rather write about Rev. King than Rev. Graham, and refused to change my mind. My teacher refused to change her mind as well. I received a D on the assignment because, as my teacher told me, Lincoln and Roosevelt were “genuine” Americans. I suppose it’s important to note here that I grew up and attended public schools in Atlanta, where, at the time, more than a few people still referred to the Civil War as the “War Between the States.” My teacher offered wise counsel: “Lincoln is still not all that popular around here, you know. Let’s not push things in the future.”

  • January 8, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Terri Gerstein, Leadership in Government Fellow, Open Society Foundations

    Last month, Microsoft announced that it will no longer require employees to bring sexual harassment claims to arbitration. This is welcome news, and a step in the right direction. But this move should be a first step. Microsoft now has the opportunity to lead the business community in eliminating these agreements not just for sexual harassment issues, but altogether. Microsoft could also use its considerable leverage to require its subcontractors to do the same. Meanwhile, federal and state government leaders should take their own actions to stop the harmful consequences of the exploding trend of forced arbitration.