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April 11, 2016

Time to Require Equal Pay for Equal Work

Diverse Business Team Discussing Work In Office

It’s April 12, 2016 – Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date that women need to work until to catch up with what men had earned by last Dec. 31.  The fact is that women who work full time, are paid an average of 79 cents for every dollar paid to men — and on average, African American and Latina women are paid even less.   It’s not a day to celebrate, but it is a teachable moment to focus on the needless, costly, and discriminatory gender wage gap – and on what we can do about it.

One high-profile example of unequal pay is that members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team, the best team in the world, are paid less than their US male team counterparts.  Five members of the team recently brought a wage discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Progress in Recent Years

  • In August 2014, Pres­i­dent Obama signed two direc­tives aimed at clos­ing the wage gap for Federal workers.   First, an Exec­u­tive Order pro­hibiting fed­eral con­trac­tors from retal­i­at­ing against employ­ees for shar­ing their salary infor­ma­tion, making it eas­ier for women to dis­cover and address pay­check inequity. And, second, the Pres­i­dent instructed the Depart­ment of Labor to cre­ate new reg­u­la­tions requir­ing fed­eral con­trac­tors and subcontractors to report salary infor­ma­tion to the gov­ern­ment, expos­ing salary inequities and thereby encour­ag­ing con­trac­tors to close the wage gap on their own.
  • And in January, the EEOC issued complementary “Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues.” ADL joined two dozen other national organizations on a letter, drafted by the National Women’s Law Center, supporting the proposal and suggesting way to clarify the protections and safeguards even further.

 

Learn, Raise Awareness – and Promote Fairness.

On this Equal Pay Day, let’s commit to spreading the word about the discriminatory pay gap between men and women – so we can close it.   Here are two great ways to get the word out:   MTV Pay Equity

  • MTV’s Emmy Award-winning “Look Different” anti-bias campaign has created the “79% Work Clock” — a clock that chimes every day at 3:20 p.m. – signifying 79% of the 9-5 workday, or the time, after which, women are no longer paid for equal work.  Their website includes a 79-Percent Calculator to help individuals find the correct time setting for their personal work clocks based on their work hours and race — and to learn more about the gender wage gap in America.
  • The Anti-Defamation League recently developed a High School lesson plan on the gender wage gap that provides an opportunity for students to reflect on their own opinions about sexism, understand the gender pay gap and its various manifestations, and consider ways that it can be overcome.

Although we’ve made some progress in the fight for equal pay, much more needs to be done.  ADL and a broad coalition of civil rights and women’s groups support The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA HR 1619/S 862)), which would give teeth to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it unlaw­ful for busi­nesses to pay men and women dif­fer­ent salaries for per­form­ing sub­stan­tially the same work. The PFA would make it ille­gal for com­pa­nies to retal­i­ate against employ­ees for dis­cussing salary dif­fer­ences and open­ busi­nesses up to civil lia­bil­ity for salary inequity.

By raising awareness and demanding legislative action, we can speed the day when the alarm clock representing the wage gap rings later and later in the day – until we will not need it at all.

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January 11, 2016

Five Things We Hope to Hear in the President’s State of the Union Speech

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

President Obama has said that his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 12 will be framed around “the big things” he sees as being priorities in the years to come, rather than taking a policy-centric approach to the speech.  He has said that there is more work that needs to be done, and we agree.

In the run-up to the president’s address, we at the Anti-Defamation League asked members of our staff and some of our offices across the country for some insights on which issues deserve priority treatment during the president’s address. Our completed list follows.  ADL’s priorities for the president include: 1) Fighting prejudice and discrimination 2) welcoming asylum seekers and refugees while protecting national security 3) safeguarding religious freedom 4) Reinforcing a commitment to Iran sanctions, and 5) Supporting a strengthened Israel-U.S. relationship.

One caveat:  I should note that while we have numbered these, they are each separate and distinct issues and not ordered by importance. We believe each of these issues deserves priority treatment by the administration at this unique time in American history when we are faced with myriad challenges and opportunities.

Let’s hope the president takes on some of these issues as he heads into his final year in office.

Fighting Prejudice, Extremism and Discrimination  

Last week’s reaffirmation of federal education anti-discrimination laws,   coming at a time of escalating prejudice and violence against specific populations–  refugees, immigrants, and the Muslim community –  was a needed, welcome reminder for schools.  The Department of Justice also has used its authority under the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2009 very effectively, but much more training and outreach for local police is needed. A 21st century policing model should include incentives for departments   to ensure they are reporting credible hate crime data to the FBI.  Criminal justice reform, including legislation now moving through Congress, must promote initiatives to interrupt the school to prison pipeline and efforts to build police-community relations.  And the President should use SOTU to further explain his new gun violence prevention initiatives, which were announced the same day ADL released a new report documenting that 2015 was the deadliest year for domestic extremist violence in the past 20 years, with firearms, overwhelmingly, the  extremist weapon of choice in 2015 – as in virtually every year.  Finally, we hope the President will press for essential legislation to restore crucial voting rights protections eliminated by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision.  If Congress fails to act, the November elections will be the first Presidential election in 50 years without the robust protections of the Voting Rights Act.

Welcoming Asylum-Seekers and Refugees AND Protecting National Security

Some Members of Congress have recently called for blocking President Obama’s plan to resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refugees. This is unfortunate on so many levels and inconsistent with our principles as a country whose origins and evolution are so bound up with generations of immigrants and refugees. The SOTU is an opportunity for the President to urge Congress to oppose efforts to halt U.S. refugee resettlement or to restrict funding for refugees, including Syrian refugees. We hope that the President will reiterate that America can keep its borders safe and, at the same time, welcome refugees that are fleeing the brutality of ISIS. The American screening process for refugees works – it is the single most difficult way to enter the United States.  America must not turn its back on its fundamental commitment to refugee protections.

As thousands of men, woman, and children have fled horrific realities of brutal violence and extreme poverty and hunger in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, we also have serious concerns about the Administration’s recent campaign of home raids to round up and deport these families and adult asylum-seekers. We hope to hear President Obama speak out and direct the Department of Homeland Security to stop these raids and deportations.  Moreover, children and families fleeing for their lives must be protected and have access to legal counsel so that they can apply for asylum and protection in the United States.

 The President should also use the SOTU to encourage Congress to recommit to advancing comprehensive immigration reform that provides for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, sound border security, safeguards against bias and discrimination, and family reunification.

 Protecting Religious Freedom, LGBT Equality and Reproductive Rights 

The President should commit to continuing his administration’s support for vigorous religious freedom advocacy on the federal, state and local levels, including opposing organized prayer.  At the same time, the administration should continue to demonstrate leadership on issues of importance to the LGBT community – which have resulted in positive, systemic changes in protections and equal rights for LGBT people – by making it clear that measures couched as supporting religious freedom that permit businesses to evade anti-discrimination laws and refuse service to people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity are not acceptable.  On the issue of reproductive rights, we understand that all eyes will be on the United States Supreme Court this year as it considers restrictions on Texas women’s clinics that we think are unnecessary and unconstitutional, but we hope the President will underscore his opposition to the Texas legislation and other similar initiatives.

 

Reinforcing America’s Commitment to Enforcement of Iran Sanctions 

Iran continues to take actions promoting policies and human right violations that profoundly conflict with core American values.  As we move closer to “implementation day,” when the IAEA would certify that Iran has met the requirements under the nuclear agreement to lift international sanctions, Iran’s ongoing human rights violations and its external aggressions must be taken into account when considering the prospect of normalized relations. The United States cannot look away from the institutionalized discrimination facing ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, including Baha’is, Christians, Jews, and Sunni Arabs. Their treatment ranges from quiet intimidation to systematic imprisonment. LGBT citizens fare far worse. The Iranian regime continues its decades-long support of terrorism against Israel and other countries, and routinely promotes fantastical anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including mocking the Holocaust and accusing Israel of creating ISIS. It also has lent financial and military support to the murderous campaign of the Syrian government.

The U.S. should be vigilant in using existing sanctions targeting these practices and explore new tools that might be needed to target both human rights violations and JCPOA violations.

We hope the President will send a strong message Tuesday night to Tehran that there will be consequences to testing both the boundaries of the nuclear agreement and continuing its nefarious behavior in the region, and repressive policies toward its own people.

 Supporting a Renewed U.S.-Israel Relationship

Congress and the Administration recognize the unique security threats and challenges facing Israel and the President should reaffirm the unshakeable U.S. commitment to Israel and its security in the SOTU. Negotiations between the U.S. and Israel are underway for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure Israel is able to maintain its qualitative military edge over its adversaries. The current MOU provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over a 10-year period and is set to expire in 2017.

 As he enters his last full year in office, President Obama clearly has a full plate.  He also has the opportunity to work with Congress to institutionalize changes, altering the landscape – domestically and internationally – in ways that will endure well beyond his presidency.  We and the nation will be paying close attention.

Follow us live @ADL_National during the State of the Union Tuesday night at 9 PM EST for our take on the speech.

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November 7, 2015

Getting the U.S.-Israel Relationship Back on Track

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives this weekend in the U.S. and prepares to meet President Obama next week, there is an opportunity for the two countries to reboot relations heading into the final stretch of the Obama Administration.

Some believe this will be challenging. Many have written about the personality clash between the two leaders. But I think the impact has been exaggerated. However, there certainly have been significant policy differences between them over the past several years.

This was particularly obvious during the debate around the so-called Iran deal. In that fractious exchange, there were tough words exchanged all around. At times, competing claims degenerated into slanderous attacks. But both sides should now take a deep breath.

Even deal opponents should recognize that President Obama chose a path that he and many experts believed to be sensible. Based on the analysis of experts, the administration felt that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action served not only the U.S. national interest but also the interests of our allies in the region, including Israel. The Anti-Defamation League did not agree with this assessment, but many experts and organizations did.

When he adopted this position, some foolishly labeled the president and his aides as anti-Semitic, a groundless charge that seems especially weak after a cursory review of the facts. President Obama and his team have consistently renewed military support for the Jewish state and provided diplomatic support for Israel at the United Nations and in other fora. Moreover, not only has the president provided moral support to Israel by linking the quest for Jewish sovereignty to the American civil rights movement, but he has joined U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Pope Francis as world leaders who appropriately have questioned the true motivations of those who reject Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.

By the same token, deal supporters should acknowledge that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government took a strong stance against the deal, not out of a desire to be oppositional to President Obama or because of a political agenda. Rather, the Israeli position was derived from a strongly held view grounded in facts that a militarized and normalized Islamic Republic is an existential threat to Israel. Critics who deny this fact seem dangerously out of touch with reality.

Indeed, since the deal was signed, the Islamic Republic has explicitly repeated its refusal to accept Israel as a legitimate member of the family of nations. Iranian proxies continue to pursue terrorism against the Jewish state. The hostility and militarism of the regime has not ebbed in any perceptible manner. And, if we take the Iranian leadership at their word, including recent statements by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it would appear that Israeli concerns are well-founded.

Further compounding legitimate policy differences, individuals on both sides occasionally have resorted to ad homenim attacks, whether individuals in Jerusalemderiding President Obama as anti-Semitic or unnamed officials in the administration disparaging Prime Minister Netanyahu as “chicken-s—.” In both cases, officials diminished themselves and their nations with such crass slander.

Looking ahead to the upcoming visit, both sides have an opportunity to move past the acrimony and acknowledge that the two countries have far more in common than the issues that divide them.

For the U.S., Israel remains a robust democracy and a bedrock island of stability in a region that seems less stable by the hour. Israel’s commitment to the rule of law, basic freedoms and human decency distinguishes it from every other country and non-state actor in the Middle East. And the Jewish state is a hub of innovation whose technological achievements power our products, whose groundbreaking research supports agriculture and manufacturing, and whose scientific advancements enable medicine and uplift humanity. And the American people at a grassroots level empirically support the Jewish state.

For Israel, the U.S, remains its most important ally. America has been unflinching in its support for Israel in international circles and multilateral fora that all too often ostracize the Jewish state. The U.S. has been a crucial source of military assistance but also an extraordinary reservoir of economic support and commercial investment at a time when the cancer of “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions” continues to grow. And America’s bedrock commitment to a fair and just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that guarantees Israel’s legitimate security interests, remains crucial to the long-term prospects for peace in the region.

And, as incitement persists and violence continues to flare, both the U.S. and Israel still share a fundamental interest in seeing an eventual end to the conflict through a two-state solution. To get the process back on track, preliminary steps will be required, including a cessation of violence on the Palestinian side and the reestablishment of trust among both parties. Nonetheless, the U.S. and Israel share an interest in facilitating this outcome and achieving a just and lasting peace for all parties.

America and Israel have far more in common than the critics care to mention. Next week — when the leaders shake hands — it will be an opportunity to remind the world of the shared interests that bind the two nations.

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