Feminists Win Potentially Largest Police Lawsuit in History
Leading feminist attorneys Patricia Bellasalma, Los Angeles National Organization for Women President Shelly Mandell, Jack O’Donnell, and Genie Harrison were handed a major victory yesterday when a Los Angeles Superior Court ruled unanimously that Los Angeles County has demonstrated a pattern and practice of race discrimination against its 500-plus public safety officers.
The class action lawsuit, spearheaded by Captains Alma Cruz, George Frank, and Victor Turner, argued that public safety officers perform duties comparable to Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies: they too face danger and possible loss of life. Yet, their pay is 40% less than deputies, and they are not given equal pension opportunities. The public safety officers, comprised 80% by Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans, patrol the county’s hospitals, parks and other public facilities where clients are predominantly women of color.
Lead attorney Bellasalma said, "The county wants to have their cake and eat it too. They knew they needed police officers to do these jobs, they just didn’t want to pay cop wages and benefits."
Cruz had come to the National Center for Women & Policing for help, at the suggestion of Jacqueline Gonzales, member of the National Center for Women and Policing. Gonzales, in turn, introduced Cruz and the other named plaintiffs to Bellasalma. This was Bellasalma’s first case out of law school. Plaintiffs will seek over $100 million in salary increases and back pay during the damages phase of the trial.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .