Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Walmart Class Action Lawsuit

Walmart is currently facing the largest class-action employment discrimination lawsuit that has ever been faced in history. The case began nearly a decade ago with six women who had alleged that they had faced discrimination in the workplace. Today, it is estimated that nearly 1.5 million women are involved with the class action lawsuit.
                Mary Henderson, a former Walmart assistant manager in Colorado, joined the lawsuit in 2001. She claimed that there were numerous men that had been promoted to managerial positions before she had been. She claims that when she asked why other males were promoted before her, the store manager replied, “Well, he’s got a family to support, you don’t.”
                Others have made similar claims: One woman claims that her male manager told her, “women should be home barefoot and pregnant and women weren’t qualified to be managers because men had an extra rib.” Another woman alleged that her vice president would not allow her to advance because she did not “hunt, fish, or do other typically-male activities.”
                According to Walmart, the class-action lawsuit is too large—representing far too large a number of women in far too many stores across the nation. Moreover, Walmart argues that the entire company cannot be held accountable due to the fact that 3,400 store managers across the nation are the ones who decide which individual promotions will go to.
                The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the case should proceed as a class-action lawsuit or individual cases in June. If the lawsuit makes it to the Supreme Court, and if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, they could be awarded billions of dollars of back pay.
                This class action lawsuit could be a huge step for the women’s rights’ movement. This lawsuit brings attention to the fact that either Walmart discriminates towards women on a regular basis or that the entire nation universally discriminates against women.
                This lawsuit will be hard for the plaintiffs to win because they will have to provide evidence that Walmart has implemented policies that intentionally discriminate against women, or that the board of directors goes to each store to ensure that women are not put into managerial positions. 
                It appears to me that the Walmart class action lawsuit is a clear example of what a majority of our nation’s companies do in today’s society. It has been almost 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, and statistics show that women still only earn 78 cents to every male dollar.
                Although this case may be difficult to prove, I believe that it should go forth as a class-action lawsuit. Since Walmart is the world’s largest corporation, this case could prove to American businesses that there are consequences for gender discrimination in the workplace.
                Females should have an equal opportunity at obtaining promotions and receiving pay equal to their male counterparts with similar experiences. Therefore, I believe that the Supreme Court should take the case, so that it can open the doors to huge gains in the women’s rights’ movement, and for all women across the United States.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Planned Parenthood

In the midst of our economic troubles, H.R. 217 was proposed by House Republicans. H.R. 217 would have eliminated the funding of Planned Parenthood. Supporters of this bill argue that because Planned Parenthood performs abortions, funding should be cut off. However, as a former intern, I would like to affirm that Planned Parenthood believes that individuals have the fundamental right to manage their own fertility, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, and other demographic factors. Moreover, Planned Parenthood provides their clients with comprehensive sex education and complimentary health care services; advocates public policies that ensure an individual’s reproductive rights; and promotes research and technological advances in the reproductive health care field.
                Aside from the fact that Planned Parenthood provides services other than abortions, the abortions that are performed account for merely 3 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood provides its patients. Citizens also need to understand that federal funds provided to Planned Parenthood do not go toward performing abortions.  Not only is Planned Parenthood denied the use of federal taxpayer money for abortions, Planned Parenthood is required to provide neutral information about them as well. 
                Instead of focusing on the fact that abortions are one of Planned Parenthood’s services, it is important to take into consideration the number of abortions that Planned Parenthood prevents. One of Planned Parenthood’s goals is to educate people about family planning services, which results in an increase in the usage of contraceptive methods. This increased usage of birth control results in a decrease in the number of pregnancies. By eliminating funding to this type of service, it may result in an increase in the number of abortions performed each year. Moreover, defunding Planned Parenthood would put low-income individuals at risk for a lack of health care services such as STD testing, annual exams, birth control counseling, and more.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Equal Pay Day

Tuesday, April 12, was Equal Pay Day! Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far women have to work into 2011 in order to make what men did in 2010. Equal Pay Day was created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity. The goal of this day was to bring public awareness to the wage gap between the genders. Since women make less money than men, on average, women have to work longer in order to make the same amount of pay as men.
Nationally, women make an average of 77 cents to every man’s dollar. In an American Association for University Women (AAUW) state-by-state analysis, research shows that the 2010 median earnings for full-time, year round workers, ages 16 and older, including all educational levels for Nebraskan males was $40,860, while females only made $30,885. Thus, the earnings ratio for females in Nebraska is only 76% of males’ earnings.
The wage gap that persists in Nebraska causes women to lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over a long period of time. The Center for American Progress has issued an interactive map that displays the persistent career wage gap. This interactive map shows that the career wage gap over a 40 year period for Nebraskan women amounts to $368,000. For Nebraskan women who have had some college education, the career wage gap over a 40 year period amounts to $435,000. As women obtain more education, the wage gap widens--Nebraskan women who have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree, the career wage gap over a 40 year period amounts to $523,000.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Election Season

Election Season
                Midterm elections are nearing and many citizens are quite frantic about the current state of Omaha. Recently, Mayor Suttle has tacked on a 2.5% tax increase on restaurants and has proposed a 50 dollar wheel tax for those working in Omaha while residing outside of the Omaha area. Many citizens of Omaha are frustrated with these tax increases and other issues such as broken promises and union deals that come at the expense of the taxpayers. As a result, a recall campaign has been launched to remove Mayor Suttle from office. The cost of this recall could be up to $900,000 and would come at the expense of city services.
                The recall on Mayor Suttle is a form of direct democracy and is indeed legal. However, the recall is quite costly and maybe could have been avoidable altogether. Omaha has a population of almost 440,000 people. Of this population, 241,703 residents were registered to vote during Mayor Suttle’s election and only 76,468 citizens actually voted. This is a low turnout rate of 31.6% of registered voters. If more people would have voted, Mayor Suttle may not have become mayor and, therefore, would not have implemented these tax increases.
                In light of this election season, I would like to bring to attention an article that was in the New York Times and other newspapers around the country. This article stated that “the poll results suggested that many women might stay home this year, giving more of the decision-making to men by default.” The article goes on to explain that women have been less attentive to politics and are not as enthusiastic about current politics as men have been. As a result, I would like to remind women of all ages of the struggle that Alice Paul and many other women went through in order for women to have a voice in the government. Thus, I would like to encourage all women to vote during the 2010 midterm elections.
                It is time for citizens of Omaha, including women, to take advantage of our democratic form of government. I would like to emphasize that it is the responsibility of citizens to vote. Moreover, citizens must be educated about current political issues and the candidates that are running in the elections. The recall on Mayor Suttle is a prime example of how important it is to be educated about the candidates and political issues of the community. Please keep in mind that the 2010 midterm elections are nearing and on Tuesday, November 2nd, it will be time for the citizens of Omaha to elect candidates who will be the voice for us in our government.