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Women in the News + The New Laws You Need to Know

January 6: Badass women and the news that affects them

Image courtesy of Nadezhda

Company Culture

  • Back in September, members of the activist group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) staged a 1,500-worker walkout in protest of the company’s (3.0 stars) environmental record—the first white collar protest in the company’s 25-year history. But according to AECJ, at least four of its members have been questioned by the company and at least two threatened with termination in connection to their organizing efforts. VICE 

  • The Girls Who Do Porn legal saga is finally over after a judge in San Diego tentatively awarded nearly $13 million to 22 women, ruling that they had been tricked and coerced into performing in pornographic videos created by the company. The judge found that the plaintiffs, who were between 17 and 22 at the time of filming, were given alcohol and drugs before being forced to sign dense contracts and were falsely told that the films would only be distributed via DVD, and not uploaded to Pornhub by the company. NY Times

  • According to the Transport Workers Union, the number of conductors and operators who have been assaulted at the New York MTA rose by 39 percent from 2018 to 2019—and the city’s women transit workers are being forced to find new ways to protect themselves at work. Quartz

Pop Culture

  • More than two years after rape allegations against former Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein helped spark the #MeToo movement, his criminal trial is finally set to begin Monday in state court in Manhattan. Weinstein will be tried on five felony counts, including predatory sexual assault and rape. Bloomberg

  • On Sunday night, Awkwafina became the first Asian-American woman to win a Golden Globe for best actress, winning in the musical/comedy category for her role in The Farewell. Awkwafina’s win came during an awards show marked by very little diversity—no women were nominated for best director, including Lulu Wang who directed The Farewell. NY Times

  • Stacey London, the television personality and stylist we all know and love from What Not to Wear, recently came out via Instagram to announce her relationship with musician Cat Yezbak, who has been her girlfriend for about a year. In her Instagram caption London wrote, “So I used to date men. Now I date her.” London also took the opportunity to acknowledge her relative privilege in being able to come out publicly: “Unlike me, there are countless people in the LGBTQIAP community who have had no choice in who they are, no love from family on which to lean, no support from anyone anywhere. I fell in love, truly in love, with this beautiful, sexy, kind soul and I won’t apologize for that but I stand on the shoulders of a community that fought like hell for me to be able to do that openly and proudly and EASILY.” Out

Quick Hits

  • It’s a new year, and along with a clean slate and resolutions aplenty, 2020 also brings many new federal and local laws into effect. This Fortune article breaks down five of the more pertinent new laws for workers and consumers, including laws that barr insurance providers from instituting “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacies from informing customers of lower priced medication options, extend the earnings threshold for overtime pay to make an estimated 1.3 million workers eligible for additional compensation, require aircraft to be equipped with satellite tracking technology, update W-4 forms for new hires, and allow businesses to offer health reimbursement arrangements to employees. Fortune

  • Another significant law that’s recently gone into effect is the California Consumer Privacy Act, which marks the first time consumers (unfortunately only in California) have the right to find out what personal information corporations collect on them, their devices, and their children; the right to opt-out of the sale of personal information; and the right to sue companies who place their identities at risk if they fail to implement reasonable security measures to protect personal information. However, Mary Stone Ross, one of the law’s author’s and the former president of the advocacy group Californians for Consumer Privacy explains in this Fast Company piece how corporate lobbyists removed some of the most important aspects from the original draft, such as non-discrimination provisions that prohibited companies from charging consumers more or denying them access if they ask the company not to sell their data, and the right to sue corporations that ignore their requests. But even in its less potent form, this act is momentous as one of the first major consumer protections against the nefarious practice of data mining and will hopefully lead to further legal protections. Fast Company

  • In this Bloomberg opinion piece, organizational psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic posits the rather cynical view that implicit bias training does not work. In addition to being bolstered by scientific study, his logic just makes sense. He explains, “This is because the main problem with stereotypes is not that people are unaware of them, but that they agree with them (even when they don’t admit it to others). In other words, most people have conscious biases.” So, rather than relying on potentially inefficient implicit bias modules that only confirm biases, he suggests promoting inclusion in the workplace through concrete changes to company policy. Bloomberg

Around the World

  • Germany: Transgender Germans who were forced to undergo sterilization to change their sex markers on official documents prior to legal reform in 2011 are petitioning the government for compensation. Al Jazeera

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By Mitra Norowzi

Contributor

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