USDA Accused of Widespread Racial and Sex Discrimination
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been charged with racial and/or sexual discrimination in five current or proposed class action lawsuits. In addition, more that 1,500 individual discrimination complaints are currently pending.
Among the current complaints include allegations that graffiti in a USDA bathroom included the words "now apes are called people" written beneath the acronym NAACP, which stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Black and Hispanic employees charged that their largely-white supervisors have repeatedly assigned them low-level tasks, denying them the training and experience needed to gain promotions. Many of those same employees also charged that less-qualified whites were frequently promoted ahead of them.
Forest Service firefighter Ginelle O'Connor, 42, alleges that her male colleagues "were making bets on how they could get rid of me" and continually attacked her with sexually-derogative insults and taunts. O'Connor said that male colleagues were so eager to see her quit her job that they threatened her with rape.
Ninety-one percent of the USDA's senior management positions are held by whites, and 80% of the USDA's most highly-paid employees are men. The USDA has agreed to pay some sort of settlement in over 1,000 of 1,800 discrimination cases considered during the last two years.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .