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The #MeToo movement has built awareness – now it needs action.

Yesterday, we joined Assemblymember Reyes, Assemblymember Friedman, and Assemblymember Waldron to announce new legislation to do just that. The SHARE Act (1870) – sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates – would extend the statute of limitations for filing sexual harassment claims from one year to three years.

Jessica Stender, Senior Counsel, Workplace Justice & Public Policy, spoke at a Sacramento press conference about the need for this change:

“Many women who survive sexual harassment at work – particularly low-wage workers – are not even aware that the clock has begun to run. They face obstacles such as trauma, lack of information about their rights, and fear of retaliation. Given the reality that women face in the workplace, it’s time to extend the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims.”

Read coverage of the bill’s announcement in The San Francisco Chronicle, Capitol Public Radio, and CBS Sacramento.

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Each day when I sit down in my office with a warm cup of coffee, I fix the photo on my desk of my two girls. I look at the sea of folders and papers in front of me, certain that justice is defended here. Throughout my day, I consider civil rights cases that must be filed. I handle calls about legislation that will help the communities my organization serves. For many years, I assumed this was my space – and that good things happen here. Most of us probably feel the same.

Fourteen years ago, Maria Bojorquez walked into my office. Maria is a mother, an immigrant, and a janitor. She cleans buildings just like mine in San Francisco. The personal story she shared reminded me that our offices change late at night. They are not safe spaces for everyone. Our offices are often where female janitors like her can be rubbed against, groped, attacked, violated, and threatened.

I am heartened to see the #MeToo movement come to workplaces across the country. My resolve and dedication to this work is affirmed with each request for sexual harassment trainers and while reading company proclamations of zero tolerance for sexual misconduct. 

But what happens when we all leave at night? What about when the lights are dimmed and women like Maria are left isolated with sexual predators in our offices?

Female janitors are mobilizing and organizing to eradicate sexual harassment and violence in their workplaces – and they’re winning. The best solutions to combat the violence experienced in some of our workplaces come from women workers themselves, a lesson we’ve learned through representing, training, and partnering with janitors.

Since Maria walked into my office 14 years ago, Equal Rights Advocates filed suit against the company that protected her assailant and Maria found justice 11 years later. We will continue to bring cases on behalf of women like her across the country because sexual assault is not the price of a paycheck.

And we are not stopping in the courts. Three years ago, we joined workers, advocates, and unions to form the Ya Basta coalition. Buoyed by the compelling PBS Frontline documentary Rape on the Night Shift, featuring the story of Maria and other janitors, we partnered with worker leaders to pass the first law specifically designed to protect janitors from sexual violence - and it's already benefiting 220,000 janitors in California. The Ya Basta coalition is training dozens of promotoras to build the power of women worker leaders and to ensure the law is implemented in worksites across the state. We intend to scale up our efforts nationally so that every one of the nation’s 2.1 million janitors feels safe when they go to work.

Women janitors are building a movement – one that we are proud to be a part of. If you want to be sure your office is safe for everyone, join us today. Because Maria’s workplace is #OursToo.

Sign up for updates about the Ya Basta Coalition and other work of Equal Rights Advocates to eradicate sexual violence in the workplace here

And be sure to check out the compelling updated version of PBS Frontline’s Rape on the Nightshift airing tonight. This updated version features leaders of the Ya Basta Coalition, including ERA Legal Director Jennifer Reisch.

 

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This weekend, we remember the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to shine truth on oppression and injustice. We honor his legacy and the work that remains to ensure the American promise can be realized for every person.

Image result for march on washington

More than 50 years have passed since Dr. King delivered his historic speech at the March on Washington in 1963. But those images of hundreds of thousands gathering on the National Mall for “jobs and freedom” remain powerful.

And those images provide an essential reminder -- we cannot stop marching.

Over the past year, the Trump administration has launched concerted, direct attacks on the civil rights of women, people of color, LGBTQ communities, religious minorities, immigrants, refugees, and people living with disabilities.

But over the past year, we have come together to resist any agenda designed to limit the American dream. We have driven an alternative vision for our country; one that reflects our commitment to equal opportunities and treatment, and one that embraces the differences that make our communities great.

Next week, Equal Rights Advocates, our supporters, and hundreds of thousands across the country will march once again. We march to end sexual violence against students and workers, disrupt hate in all its forms, and to demand equal wages.

We march because we cannot let attacks on any one individual’s civil rights go unchallenged. We march for all, or we march for none.

Join us in our march for justice – sign up to march with ERA in Oakland or San Francisco on Saturday, January 20.

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With every large-scale social movement, there is a spark that triggers enough of a sense of injustice that it cannot be contained and it mobilizes almost everyone it catches in its path.

The Civil Rights movement had Recy Taylor.
The gay rights movement had Stonewall.
The migrant workers movement had Delano.
The American Revolution literally spilled the tea in Boston.
Black Lives Matter had Ferguson.

For many of us -- not all -- that moment was in November 2016 with the Presidential election.  It took only a few weeks of a presidential transition to see the very real danger this Administration posed to the slim progress made in civil rights for women, LGBTQ communities, religious minorities, immigrants, refugees, sexual assault survivors, people living with disabilities, and people of color. This was audacious, outrageous change that presented a threat to our values of fairness, equity, and democracy.

So we marched. To show our power; to show our #Resistance. To signal our resolve in the face of weaponized discrimination and greed.

This year we march to remind ourselves of that tremendous show of strength. In addition to that nostalgia, we at ERA also march to set our shoulders more firmly against the boulder of oppression that burdens women of color, women in poor communities, and women in low wage work across this country who literally hold our communities together despite the toughest odds set against them.

This year, we are marching to End Sexual Violence in Education.
We are marching to stop the workplace harassment and sexual assault of women janitors and restaurant workers.
We march to combat unequal and unfair wages.
We march to stop sexual harassment in the VC and entertainment industries.
We are marching to put an end to messed up sex stereotypes in schools that arrest the entry of girls in STEM fields.
We march to create the strongest economic agenda for working women in the country.

When the Trump administration resolves to remove civil rights protections for women in education and the workplace; for students with disabilities; for trans students; and emboldened racists see this as an opportunity to destroy civil rights protections, this is not the year to stop marching. Each of these struggles are interconnected; if we only protect one area of the field, like gender, we leave the rest unprotected and vulnerable. Our democracy cannot stand with such a gaping hole.

At ERA we march for all or we march for none.

Join us in our march for justice. We hope to see you there.

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The #MeToo movement has built awareness – now it needs action.

Yesterday, we joined Assemblymember Reyes, Assemblymember Friedman, and Assemblymember Waldron to announce new legislation to do just that. The SHARE Act (1870) – sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates – would extend the statute of limitations for filing sexual harassment claims from one year to three years.

Jessica Stender, Senior Counsel, Workplace Justice & Public Policy, spoke at a Sacramento press conference about the need for this change:

“Many women who survive sexual harassment at work – particularly low-wage workers – are not even aware that the clock has begun to run. They face obstacles such as trauma, lack of information about their rights, and fear of retaliation. Given the reality that women face in the workplace, it’s time to extend the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims.”

Read coverage of the bill’s announcement in The San Francisco Chronicle, Capitol Public Radio, and CBS Sacramento.

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We’ve Said #MeToo – Now We’re Pushing Legislation

January 19, 2018 | by

The #MeToo movement has built awareness – now it needs action. Yesterday, we joined Assemblymember Reyes, Assemblymember Friedman, and Assemblymember Waldron to announce new legislation to do just...
read more

Maria’s Workplace is #OursToo: Stopping the Epidemic of Sexual Violence Against Female Janitors

January 16, 2018 | by

Each day when I sit down in my office with a warm cup of coffee, I fix the photo on my desk of my two girls. I look at the sea of folders and papers in front of me, certain that justice is defended...
read more

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, We March On

January 12, 2018 | by

This weekend, we remember the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to shine truth on oppression and injustice. We honor his legacy and the work that remains to ensure the American promise can...
read more

This is not the year to stop marching

January 10, 2018 | by

With every large-scale social movement, there is a spark that triggers enough of a sense of injustice that it cannot be contained and it mobilizes almost everyone it catches in its path. The Civil...
read more