NOW Foundation 1997 Annual Report




 

THE NOW FOUNDATION

The National Organization for Women Foundation was established in 1986 as a 501(c)(3) education and litigation organization allied with the National Organization for Women, the largest feminist organization in the United States, with its national offices in Washington, D.C. and over five hundred affiliates across the country. The two groups share some staff and office space and have overlapping boards of directors. 

The NOW Foundation seeks to enhance the status of women in the United States and around the world through both litigation and education. The litigation efforts of the Foundation seek to protect reproductive health options for women, as well as focusing on other areas of concern to women, such as employment issues, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, lesbian and gay rights, civil rights and violence against women. In our educational efforts, the Foundation works to inform the general public, as well as policy-makers, about topics concerning the equal treatment of women. We do this in many ways, including public speaking, conferences, seminars, training programs, and educational materials. The Foundation has sponsored national and international conferences, including a Global Feminism Conference, several regional conferences on women of color and reproductive rights, and two Young Feminist Summits.  Foundation projects have also included the compilation of informational resources on abortion clinic violence, women's health, lesbian rights, affirmative action, racial and ethnic diversity, economic equity, violence against women, sexual harassment, family law and insurance discrimination. 


REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM - "STOP THE RESCUE RACKET" 

NOW Foundation established the "Stop the Rescue Racket" project to address anti-abortion terrorism and clinic violence, a project vital to protecting the health of women. We gather information about the activities of anti-abortion groups and individuals and have been active (and ultimately successful) in urging the creation of a Justice Department task force. Information on clinic violence is being tracked, and the relevant information is being entered into a specialized computer database which is constantly updated as we receive materials from clinics and activists across the country. 

The NOW Foundation is dedicated to a long-term litigation strategy to stop clinic violence. Our primary project in this area is the NOW v. Scheidler lawsuit, with its potential to de-fund the network of anti-abortion terrorists which has already spread from the U.S. to countries around the world. 
 
 NOW v. Scheidler is a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of two named clinics and the National Organization for Women, as class representatives (respectively) of all clinics in the United States that provide abortion services and all women who might seek to use their services. It alleges that Joseph Scheidler, Randall Terry, Operation Rescue, and other anti-abortion groups and zealots are the organizers of a nationwide network coordinating violent attacks against abortion providers. 

Our claims in NOW v. Scheidler are based on the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Five years after NOW v. Scheidler was filed in federal court, the case was dismissed on the grounds that RICO required the defendants' acts to be economically motivated. NOW appealed the decision, and in January of 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that the statute does not require such a motive. 

The case was returned to the lower court, and much of 1997 was dedicated to preparing to go back to trial in March 1998. The last few years have been a critical period for this suit, as we fought the defendants' persistent delaying tactics, and funded the research, investigation, and legal preparation necessary for taking the depositions of those responsible for clinic murders and bombings -- including Paul Hill and Michael Griffin. We have taken depositions from many of those prominent in the anti-abortion movement, including: Randall Terry, Paul Hill, Michael Griffin, Flip Benham, Keith Tucci, Andy Burnett, Rachelle Shannon, Joseph Foreman, and John Burt. The depositions of Scheidler, Andrew Scholberg and Timothy Murphy were taken in 1997 after their many delaying tactics during discovery. 

In 1997, our class action was finally certified. NOW had been representing the class of its members, and was named class representative of the class of all women who are not members of NOW but who use or may use the clinics. And in September, the judge dismissed motions filed by Randall Terry and Operation Rescue, and he ruled that we had enough evidence to prove that they and other defendants had engaged in racketeering activity and that we could proceed to trial. The trial date was set for March 2, 1998. [Update: The trial ended on April 20, 1998 with a unanimous jury verdict against all defendants. They will appeal the verdict.] 

The NOW v. Scheidler lawsuit is an essential part of the fight to preserve access to reproductive health options in the United States. The triple damages available under the RICO statute will help to compensate financially-strapped clinics for the damage they have suffered, provide a strong deterrent to those considering violence, and capture substantial resources funding the violent anti-abortion movement. Although neither the NOW Foundation nor NOW will receive a penny of the damages, the Foundation has devoted considerable resources over many years because a successful outcome in this lawsuit will have a dramatic impact on the funding, and in many cases the very existence, of anti-abortion violence across the country. 


WOMEN'S HEALTH PROJECT 

Advertisers, particularly the tobacco industry, have targeted women and girls by co-opting the feminist message of liberation and distorting it by focusing on traditional concepts of weight and beauty. To raise awareness and take action against this life-threatening advertising, the NOW Foundation launched the Women's Health Project as part of our on-going work to improve women's health. 

The NOW Foundation is mobilizing women and girls across the country to expose the deadly health risks of tobacco, alcohol and fashion advertising to women and girls. Our video, Redefining Liberation, is one of our most exciting and motivating organizing tools. Prominent feminist leaders, activists and young women talk candidly about how this harmful advertising affects their lives and the lives of other women. NOW Foundation leaders travel across the country, showing the video and developing action plans with campus and community groups to combat these dangerous messages. 


YOUNG FEMINIST OUTREACH

The NOW Foundation has sponsored and organized two Young Feminist conferences
On April 11-13, 1997 in Washington, DC,  the Young Feminist Skill-Building Summit brought together nearly 1,500 young feminists from across the country. There were over forty workshops, in addition to small and large group discussions and plenary sessions, with such topics as: the art of advocacy; diversity as a tool for the future; organizing in your community; campus organizing; building inter-generational bridges; and on the NOW Foundation's Redefining Liberation Women's Health Project. The participants also created regional action plans and committed to working together upon their return home. 

The first was the Young Feminist Summit held on Violence on April 7th-8th, 1995 in Arlington, Virginia, which drew over 1,200 participants -- young women and men from thirty-four states and the District of Columbia. Dozens of workshops addressed the various forms of violence affecting young women in our society. Topics included:  sexual harassment in schools; violence in music, language and the media; the violence of poverty; lesbian and gay bashing; eating disorders; raising non-violent, non-sexist children; women of color and violence; surviving violence; date and acquaintance rape; child abuse; terrorism at abortion clinics; global perspectives on violence against women; self-defense training; coalition building; conflict resolution; and prejudice reduction.  In addition, attendees participated in working groups and formed grassroots action plans for returning to their own communities. 


LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING 

Action Team trainings, which emphasize techniques for organizing around an issue in local communities, are being effectively used to educate community activists on issues of affirmative action, lesbian rights, reproductive rights, violence against women, welfare rights and women's health issues, while teaching valuable communication skills.  Many of the workshops and skill-building sessions at the two young feminist conferences (see above) emphasized local advocacy and change-oriented organizing, in addition to coalition-building and conflict resolution. 

LESBIAN RIGHTS PROGRAM

Foundation staff participate in coalitions working on the health concerns of lesbians, domestic violence in lesbian relationships, and efforts to end hate crimes and employment discrimination against lesbians. NOW Foundation is also an educational resource for activists throughout the country on issues of homophobia, hate crimes, equal marriage rights, and lesbian family issues. In advocating for the prosecution of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, we are educating the public about the homophobic and misogynistic Promise Keepers, a right-wing religious group. 

 In response to a ballot measure that would have adversely affected lesbian and gay rights in Maine, NOW Foundation staff conducted trainings on organizational skills. NOW Foundation staff and our Education Vice President spoke at twelve universities and colleges in Maine, educating students and the public on the issue of violence and discrimination against lesbians and gays. 

 The Foundation organized to ensure that the 1995 and 1997 Young Feminist Summits were attended by young people active in student gay rights organizations. Foundation staff conducted workshops at both Summits on the topics of lesbian and gay bashing and organizing around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. 


RACIAL AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY

The focus of this program is to educate community activists and the society at large on the concerns of women of color as they affect all issues addressed by the women's movement.  Foundation staff have presented prejudice reduction workshops for college interns, NOW leaders, two Young Feminist Summits, and the American Association of University Women. Educational materials were developed on affirmative action and for a Valuing Diversity Kit. 

 We work actively to support affirmative action and provide educational materials and participated in coalition efforts to ensure that activists and the public were better informed about efforts in California to eliminate affirmative action programs, particularly for women and people of color. NOW Foundation has also organized and sponsored several regional conferences on women of color and reproductive rights. An on-going part of our work in this area is to network with many other organizations that address the issue of racism.  Our public education and networking outreach includes an emphasis on how racism is interrelated with issues of sexism, homophobia, poverty, and violence. 


THE FEMINIZATION OF POVERTY 

Public Policy and Welfare Rights Project staff have provided education and community outreach on the issue of welfare rights, the challenges faced by women and children living in poverty, and the need for universal health care. In particular, the Foundation worked hard to educate about the punitive nature of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193) which effectively repealed the decades-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and replaced it with a block-granted program to states, requiring that virtually all AFDC recipients ultimately be employed. Strict deadlines for removing recipients from AFDC (renamed Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, TANF) rolls were part of the new law. 

NOW Foundation continues to be concerned that the new policies contain insufficient assurance that jobs will be available or that support services such as affordable child care will be offered.  Unfortunately, those concerns have been well-founded and NOW Foundation has focused on eliminating some of the most punitive provisions of the legislation. Additionally, NOW Foundation has pursued exemptions, via the Family Violence Option, for battered women who may face increased difficulties in a transition to employment. For example, in one study as many as 49% of welfare recipients who were also in welfare-to-work programs reported interference from their abusers in their efforts to maintain employment. 

In order to educate activists and public officials about the need for flexibility in implementing welfare-to-work policies for battered women, we prepared and sent information kits on the Family Violence Option (FVO). The FVO is a provision in federal law that allows states to waive certain welfare-to-work deadlines for women who have been abused. States were urged to adopt the FVO, incorporating a model plan into their new state welfare plan. The information also encouraged states to adopt policies and programs to screen recipients for domestic violence problems and to assist battered women in the welfare-to-work transition by providing important social services such as safety planning, counseling, safe shelter, medical care and child care. The material was distributed in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories. 

Close monitoring of the state welfare plans continued throughout 1997, and by the July deadline a total of 44 states and the District of Columbia (plus nearly all territories) indicated that they planned to address violence in their state plans -- 28 of those states and territories had adopted the Family Violence Option in its entirety.  We continue to pursue adoption in the recalcitrant states. 

NOW Foundation was the recipient of a grant from the Ms. Foundation to conduct briefings and distribute information on the Family Violence Option and the connections between battering and welfare in six targeted states, including Michigan, Louisiana, California, New York, Florida and Massachusetts.Activists in California and New York, where welfare populations are large, worked especially diligently for adoption of the Family Violence Option at the state level. In the end, all six of our targeted states adopted the FVO. The information we provided to activists and policy makers in those states included an explanation of the new welfare law, the proposed Family Violence Option and its rationale, model testimony, and background on the problem of family violence among welfare recipients. 

We have also worked directly with women who are welfare recipients and have aided them in their community activism. In 1992, with the National Welfare Rights Union and similar groups, we co-founded Up and Out of Poverty Now, a coalition of feminists and welfare rights activists working together to ensure that the voices of low-income women are heard. Foundation staff work closely with welfare rights groups, homeless organizations, anti-hunger groups and immigration groups to fight efforts to take away basic health care, education, housing, and programs to aid children. 

Since 1996, the Foundation has held briefings in conjunction with the Council of Presidents, a coalition of national women's organizations, as part the activities of the Women and Welfare Task Force. Through that program a series of speakers presented research and public policy information on such issues as family violence, food stamps, immigrant women, reproductive rights, work requirements under the new welfare law, privatization of welfare programs, job training, job availability, teen parenting, child care, housing, child support collection and other topics. This Women and Welfare Task Force (chaired by the NOW Foundation's Public Policy Director) was renamed in 1997 as the Economic Security Task Force.   Briefings were held for Congressional staff and members of the public on women's economic status and related changes in federal law and policy. 


VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 

The Foundation is committed to public education and policy advocacy directed toward eliminating violence against women. We held the 1995 Young Feminist Summit on Violence to train young activists on the issue and inspire them to continue this work in their communities. We are actively engaged in involving young women and men around the issue of violence against women, bringing them together across the traditional dividing lines of gender, race, class, religion, physical ability, or sexual orientation. 

NOW Foundation has worked hard to educate the public on how current "welfare reform" efforts will make it more difficult for women and their children to flee domestic violence (see above). In addition, staff and interns have compiled information on state-by-state stalking laws and remedies, sexual harassment claims and the processes involved in pursuing such claims, state-by-state laws on domestic violence evidence in child custody cases, the impact of gender-based hate crimes, and the global problem of female genital mutilation. 

Our staff and interns participated in the drafting of the new Violence Against Women Act (VAWA II), which will be introduced in Congress in 1998 and will expand the protections won in the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Some highlights of the bill include: 

  • A prohibition against insurance companies denying coverage to battered women because of domestic violence; 
  • Prohibitions against employers discriminating against battered women and suggested state legislation to similarly amend State Workers' Compensation laws; 
  • A provision clarifying employer liability for gender-related violence occurring at the workplace; 
  • Tax credit incentives for employers to provide services for employees experiencing domestic violence and establishment of a National Workplace Clearinghouse on Domestic Violence;
  • Provisions to enforce Full Faith and Credit by one state for another state's protection orders when abusers or their victims cross state lines; 
  • Clarification on eligibility of battered women to receive assistance from legal services programs; 
  • Uniform regulations for institutions reporting sexual assault on campuses and requiring further data collection and other studies; 
  • Funding for sexual assault coalitions, establishment of a Commission on Rape and Sexual Assault, and measures to prevent sexual misconduct in prisons; 
  • Establishment of a Commission on Military Justice and Fairness and training of medical personnel, military instructors and chaplains in problems of domestic violence; 
  • Provisions to promote training for and adoption of proper procedures by health care professionals in identifying and referring victims of domestic violence; 
  • Support for training on elder abuse and funding of shelters and outreach to seniors who are being abused;
  • Increased authorization under the Family Violence and Prevention Services Act to fund $1.1 billion in construction and services for battered women's shelters, plus a separate provision addressing permanent housing resources for battered women and children; and  many other provisions. 
  • In addition, NOW Foundation staff assisted in preparations for a White House conference on Hate Crimes, which was held late last year.  A score of academics, activists and survivors of sex-based or sexual-orientation based hate crimes were identified by NOW Foundation and referred to the White House for inclusion in discussion panels. Prior to the conference, NOW Foundation officers had a productive meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno, where we sought clarification of the Department of Justice's position on the federal role in prohibiting sex-based, sexual-orientation and disability-based hate crimes. 

    To help build awareness of hate crimes against women, NOW Foundation assisted in the writing of a report published by the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF) and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). Our section about sex-based hate crimes noted that "society is beginning to realize that many assaults against women are not random acts of violence but are actually bias-related crimes" and that federal statutes and many state statutes do not contain prohibitions against bias-crimes aimed at women.  Further, because women as a class are not covered by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, the FBI keeps no records of sex-based hate crimes. But data confirms the substantial extent of sex-based hate crimes. The report called for expansion of federal criminal civil rights statutes to include gender, sexual orientation and immigration status. 


    DIVORCE AND CHILD CUSTODY 

    In response to a growing number of reports from women all over the country, NOW Foundation undertook a project that will assist women who are at risk of losing or have lost custody of minor children to an abusive ex-partner. Activists relate that they receive a torrent of letters and phone calls from women caught in protracted litigation over child custody, often involving violations of due process or conduct of judges and other court officials that is blatantly sexist. Because of the generally superior economic status of ex-husbands, women often find themselves at a disadvantage in divorce and child custody matters. A common theme in many of these cases is the disbelief by judges of women's assertions of domestic violence or of child abuse by their ex-partners. Additionally, many women appear to be poorly served by legal counsel and end up in debt for large legal bills.  Understandably, these experiences are financially and emotionally devastating for women. 

    NOW Foundation helped to establish a working group composed of domestic violence, child abuse, feminist, and legal organizations as well as individual researchers and activists. During 1997, the working group developed a mission statement and work plan and met frequently to share information. Legislation was developed to clarify enforcement of the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution as it may apply to Protection Orders from other states, plus improvements in federal statutes pertaining to parental kidnaping.  A briefing on this legislation for domestic violence program advocates, Congressional members and staff was held in October 1997 in the House of Representatives. 

    Preparation of an educational and research unit on the complex problem of women losing custody of children to abusers was undertaken for eventual placement on the NOW Foundation website.  Content will include a questionnaire form to help document the nature and scope of the problem, as well as background information. Other items will include self-help tips, references to published materials, names of support groups/counseling services and model state statutes.  Recommendations to activists in assisting women who face this problem will be covered as well. 

    In addition, NOW Foundation staff and interns have conducted research that will lead to the publication of a handbook on the rights of women in marriage and divorce. By the end of 1998, we expect to circulate to expert readers our draft of a document that will provide basic information on a wide variety of topics, from name changes and tax laws to joint custody and social security benefits. Upon completion, the publication will be made available to advocates, public and university libraries, women's studies programs, and to the general public. 


    GLOBAL FEMINISM 

    The Foundation coordinates efforts to communicate with feminist leaders around the world and to educate the public in the United States about the status of women worldwide. As an on-going project, we have been particularly active on the issue of violence against women around the world, publicizing the plight of millions of women maimed by the practice of female genital mutilation. NOW Foundation held a Global Feminism Conference in 1992, which brought together hundreds of grassroots feminist leaders from forty-five countries to exchange ideas and resources, and we continue to meet regularly with women leaders around the world. 

    Staff and officers also participated in the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China, with NOW Foundation Secretary Karen Johnson serving on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Network for the Fourth World Conference on Women and Beyond.  Two officers and two staff members attended the Conference and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Forum and presented two workshops: one on organizational development and one on consciousness-raising -- the link between the personal and the political.  The Foundation works for policy changes based on the Platform for Action and for the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. 


    INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION 

    Foundation staff educate the public on how current insurance industry practices discriminate against women. Without an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the government approves treatment of men and women differently in all insurance arrangements -- price, coverage and benefits. Insurance companies market appeals to men with stereotypes like:  "Women are sicker, must be responsible for the financial burden of pregnancy and pregnancy prevention, are not committed to their jobs, and live too long."  These stereotypes are used to justify higher charges for medical expenses, disability income and retirement annuities for women who do not get insurance through their employers and thus are not protected by Title VII
     
    Invidious discrimination is particularly costly with the myth that women are "safer" drivers and get "breaks" on auto insurance. This myth is used to justify sex-divided arrangements as beneficial to women and proof that constitutional equality would be harmful to them.  The Insurance Project brings a new level of analysis and debate on auto insurance to the public, publicizing that non-discriminatory cents-per-mile pricing could end the deliberate over-charging of lower mileage drivers, generally women, the poor and older drivers, who suffer under the current payment method of fixed premiums for unlimited mileage. 

    In addition, the Foundation educated the public about the discriminatory use of the air bag in automobiles. This device was designed to increase safety for average-sized men not wearing seat belts. As brought out in March, 1997, during four days of hearings by the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, air bags when used with seat belts produced only small reductions in risk for the average driver. But for the small-sized driver, predominantly women, air bags actually increased injury and fatality risk.  In response to inquiries, the Insurance Research Project provided this information and how to get government permission to have air bags deactivated. In the hearings, it was uncontested that driving 2 miles per hour slower or using a car 200 pounds heavier gain the equivalent to the nine percent risk reduction provided by air bags. NOW's analysis means that if per mile insurance provided financial incentive to cut individual driving by ten percent, the reduced exposure to chance of accident would reduce annual fatality risk more than air bags for men and women drivers. 

    Over the year, the project communicated results of the per mile analysis of auto insurance to university staff and graduate students, and individuals at the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board annual meeting and also a meeting of the board's Transportation Economics committee. In addition, our staff drafted of a major critique of current insurance assessments of automobile safety devices. 


    EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND DIVERSITY IN COMMUNICATIONS

    NOW Foundation's Executive Vice President, Kim Gandy, participated in a working group that negotiated with broadcasters and developed a streamlined set of Equal Employment Opportunity recruitment requirements for implementation by the Federal Communications Commission. The recommendations were made in response to a bid by broadcasters to dispense with EEO requirements for recruiting women and people of color for positions within the industry. 

    Some of the more important changes suggested by the working group include a new method of evaluating broadcasters, basing it on their success at recruiting qualified women and minorities, rather than merely looking at their ability to document recruitment efforts. Several new ideas were advanced, including use of an electronic filing and record keeping system that would facilitate reporting to the FCC by broadcasters and creation of a voluntary dispute resolution program.  Additionally, it was proposed by the group that an all-industry job bank be created that would collect information from all online job banks, including those from state broadcasters' associations, civil rights organizations, and from both licensees and job applicants. 

     The job bank would be funded through voluntary payment by licensees into a nonprofit fund and the job bank would be jointly operated by the National Association of Broadcasters, along with a broad range of women and minority media associations. Analyses of the data on a yearly basis will determine whether significant change is occurring and when the industry is fully integrated.  In this and other related activities, NOW Foundation worked with the Institute for Pubic Representation at Georgetown University. 

    Finally, NOW Foundation and the working group called for the FCC to issue an annual report on EEO compliance within the industry that contains statistical data on the progress (or lack of it) by women and minorities in the broadcast industry. 


    PUBLIC EDUCATION 

    In addition to the specific educational and training efforts described above, information about the status of women in our society and the issues affecting women's welfare was disseminated through many public speaking engagements of the Foundation's president, Patricia Ireland, and other officers. Public education is also served through the development of educational materials on women's issues

    LITIGATION TO SECURE WOMEN'S RIGHTS 

    Since 1995, the Foundation has extended its litigation efforts beyond NOW v. Scheidler to include cases which address affirmative action, employment and pregnancy discrimination, lesbian and gay rights, municipal liability for civil rights violations,  reproductive rights, sexual harassment, and violence against women. Following are some short descriptions of cases in which the NOW Foundation participated as amicus curiae: 

    Baehr v. Miike: Plaintiffs filed this suit seeking the right to marry in Hawaii. The Amici argued that potential discrimination by other states against some Hawaiian marriages is not a compelling state interest that would justify denying lesbians and gay men the right to marry that is protected in the Hawaii constitution. 

    City of Bangor v. Stauble: This case before the Maine Superior Court addressed Bangor's residential anti-picketing ordinance. The city ordinance prohibiting picketing within 300 feet of a targeted residence has been challenged by two anti-abortion activists. The trial judge struck down the ordinance as unconstitutional, and the city is appealing that decision. The case is critical to testing local efforts to protect reproductive health care providers from anti-abortion harassment and complements federal protections available under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act

    Board of Education of the Township of Piscataway v. Sharon Taxman:  In 1989, the school board in Piscataway, New Jersey laid off a white teacher, Sharon Taxman, instead keeping an equally qualified black teacher with the same hire date. Taxman argued that a racially-neutral means of making the choice should have been used. The lower courts ruled against the school board, asserting that the board had failed to prove the need for racial diversity in the high school's business education department. Historically, the Supreme Court has distinguished between applying affirmative action to hiring policies as opposed to layoffs, supporting it for hiring, but applying a stricter standard to actions affecting existing employees. Amici argued the validity of non-remedial, diversity-based affirmative action and that affirmative action is especially important in education, where a diversity of backgrounds contributes to the educational experience. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. [Update: The case was settled before reaching the Supreme Court.] 

    Bryan County v. Brown: This case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 1997.  At issue was municipal liability for federal civil rights violations. Ms. Brown sued Bryan County, Oklahoma due to allegations of excessive force used by a deputy. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict holding the deputy and Bryan County liable and reaffirmed that a single hiring decision may create municipal liability.  Unfortunately, the Supreme Court overturned this ruling and held that the respondent did not demonstrate that the hiring decision reflected a conscious disregard for a high risk that the deputy would use excessive force. This case was important to women because it addressed liability for hiring decisions. 

    Brzonkala v. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University:  In 1995, the NOW Foundation and other women's rights organizations filed an amicus curiae brief in opposition to a motion to dismiss in the first civil suit to be filed under the civil rights provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Brzonkala's suit also challenged the secret disciplinary systems used by colleges across the country to deal privately with campus rapes.  Her attorney argued that the university gave preferential treatment to its male athletes (her alleged rapists) at the expense of Ms. Brzonkala's rights, thereby violating Title IX. In 1996, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia ruled that the VAWA civil rights remedy was unconstitutional and ruled against the plaintiff's Title IX claims.  Amici continue to support the plaintiff's appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 

    Edwards v. City of Santa Barbara: In a First Amendment claim, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California upheld part of Santa Barbara's clinic buffer zone ordinance, but struck down a section creating an 8-foot buffer zone around clinic driveways.  While the courts have upheld the constitutionality of buffer zones created by court-ordered injunctions, this case is only the second to consider the constitutionality of buffer zones created by city ordinances.  The decision is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. 

    Garcia v. Runyon: Our amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals supported plaintiff''s claim that she was discriminated against by the U.S. Post Office.  Garcia was granted a promotion which was soon revoked when she reported for training and her pregnancy was apparent.  The Postal Service took the position that a person on "light duty" (because of pregnancy or otherwise) can never bid for another job, even one that is less strenuous than her current position.  The Postal Service created an irrebuttable presumption that a pregnant woman can never be physically capable of completing a training period  --  a clear violation of Title VII.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision against Garcia and refused to grant an en banc hearing.  The NOW Foundation wrote an  amicus brief in support of Garcia's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but they denied certiorari. 

    Rowinsky v. Bryan Independent School District: Plaintiffs' petition for certiorari sought U.S. Supreme Court review of this Fifth Circuit decision involving sexual harassment of a student by her peers. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing to stand the Fifth Circuit ruling that schools are not liable.  Lower courts have reached mixed conclusions;  the NOW Foundation continues to track other cases involving sexual harassment in schools. 

    U.S. v. Lanier: The case established that the rape, sexual assault and harassment of women by a  state court judge is a violation of women's federal civil rights.  Tennessee Chancery Judge David Lanier was found guilty of violating a federal statute that criminalizes civil rights violations by those exercising official authority, but the Sixth Circuit en banc reversed the lower court, ruling that rape and sexual assault were not sufficiently established as civil rights violations.  In March 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Circuit must reconsider its ruling and that the women in the Lanier case did have a constitutional right to be free from unwanted sexual abuse.  Lanier was ordered to return to jail by August 22nd pending review of his case, but fled; he was later arrested in Mexico. 

    Walters v. Metropolitan Educational Enterprises, Inc.:  We signed on to an amicus curiae brief in this case which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 14, 1997.  The Court held that part-time and hourly workers should be counted when determining whether an employer has 15 or more employees -- and thus, that these employees are protected by Title VII.  This case raised important concerns about the availability of civil rights protections to part-time and contingent workers, who are disproportionately women, people of color, and low-wage workers. 

     

    NOW Foundation's Governing Board

    Patricia Ireland,             President
    Kim A. Gandy,              Executive Vice President
    Elizabeth Toledo,           Education Vice President (7/97-12/97)
    Rosemary Dempsey,     Education Vice President (1/97-7/97)
    Karen Johnson,             Secretary-Treasurer
     
    Jan Allen
    Marti Farha Ammar
    Rebecca Bermudez
    Gay E. Bruhn
    Dr. Janet Canterbury
    Alicia Cole
    Robin Davis
    Barbara Burgos DiTullio
    Earleen Edberg
    Robin Frodge
    Cindy Guerra
    Barbara Hill
    Candy Kern
    Sally Lansdale
    Lynn Laverdure
    Sue Ledbetter
    Denise Lee
    Janet Levi
    Susan Mackenzie
    Amy Meedel
    Geraldine Miller
    Carolyn Moncrief
    Mary Mosley
    Judy Murphy
    Debra Northart
    Hannah Olanoff
    Marcia Pappas
    Alicia Perez-Banuet
    Tia Plympton
    Lois Galgay Reckitt
    Hannah Riddering
    Catherine Samuels
    Eleanor Smeal
    Jacqueline Steingold
    Linda Tosti-Lane
    Joanne Tosti-Vasey
    Melinda Towne
    Pat Varieur
    Chloe Watts
    Ruth Young
    Ellen J. Zucker
     

     

    Chief Administrative Personnel, 1997:
    Kim A. Gandy            Executive Vice President
    Cindy Hanford            Administrative Assistant
    Jan Erickson               Public Policy Director
    Patrick Butler             Insurance Project Director
    Loretta Kane              Leadership Development Training Director
    Vanessa Salinas          Racial and Ethnic Diversity Program Director (7/97-12/97)
    Marquita Sykes          Racial and Ethnic Diversity Program Director (1/94-7/97)
    Barbara Hays             Lesbian Rights Program Director (7/97-12/97)
    Kimberlee Ward         Lesbian Rights Program Director (1/95-7/97)
    AnnMarie Walker       Accountant