Blog of Rights

Deborah J.
Vagins

Deborah Vagins is senior legislative counsel at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. She leads the Washington Legislative Office’s civil rights advocacy efforts and develops pro-active strategies on pending federal legislation and executive branch actions concerning racial justice, education, employment discrimination, voting rights, and disability rights. Vagins has been instrumental in advocating for major civil rights legislation, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and the 2006 Voting Rights Act reauthorization, among others..

 

Before joining the ACLU in 2005, Vagins served as the acting deputy general counsel and senior attorney-advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Prior to that, Vagins was an associate at Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, where she litigated high-profile nationwide civil rights class actions. She represented more than 1.5 million women from Wal-Mart in the largest Title VII employment discrimination class action in history. She was also an associate at Sidley & Austin in the civil, criminal and constitutional litigation practice group and founded the firm’s Committee for the Recruitment and Retention of Women. Earlier Vagins worked at EMILY’s List and clerked at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. Vagins graduated magna cum laude from the Washington College of Law at American University. She received her B.A. with distinction from Swarthmore College.

 


 

The Supreme Court Limits Our Employment Rights...Again

The Supreme Court Limits Our Employment Rights...Again

By Christina Black, Women's Rights Project, ACLU & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:04pm
In a high-profile few weeks of wins and losses at the Supreme Court, there are two end-of-term opinions that will make it more difficult for workers to sue employers who discriminate against them, which may have gotten a bit lost in the shuffle. One case involves race discrimination, and the other involves actions taken in retaliation for complaining about national origin and religious discrimination. Both interpret one of the federal laws that govern employment discrimination: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By setting forth yet another cramped interpretation of this statute, the Supreme Court made it more difficult once again, as it did in prior terms with the Ledbetter and Wal-Mart decisions, for victims of workplace discrimination to obtain justice.
Supreme Court Put a Dagger in the Heart of the Voting Rights Act

Supreme Court Put a Dagger in the Heart of the Voting Rights Act

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Laughlin McDonald, Voting Rights Project at 1:54pm

While the 15th Amendment was adopted in 1870 and prohibited denial of the right to vote on account of race or color, in reality, many African-Americans were only able to vote within recent memory -- less than 50 years ago, with the passage of the Voting…

Fifty Years Later, Fulfilling the Promise of Equal Pay

Fifty Years Later, Fulfilling the Promise of Equal Pay

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:33am

My mom graduated from a prestigious, small women's college in the 1950s with dreams of graduate school...

ACLU and the Equal Pay Act of 1963: Celebrating 50 Years of Advocacy

ACLU and the Equal Pay Act of 1963: Celebrating 50 Years of Advocacy

By Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:38pm

This June 10th, the ACLU will join organizations and individuals across the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a landmark law that required equal pay for equal work for women for the first time. If…

18 More Cents...in 50 Years

18 More Cents...in 50 Years

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:58am

Over the last five decades, women have broken many barriers in education, business, and government. We need look no further than Congress to see the progress women have made: in 1963, Congress had only 14 women. In contrast, the new 113th Congress…

Mr. President, Walk With Us On Our Journey for Equal Pay

Mr. President, Walk With Us On Our Journey for Equal Pay

By Georgeanne M. Usova, Washington Legislative Office & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:16pm

Today, the ACLU joined over 100 organizations to send a letter to President Obama asking for executive action to combat pay discrimination.

For far too long, equal pay has been out of reach for many women as a result of workplace discrimination.…

Shelby, ITCA, and Congress' Role in Protecting Voting Rights

Shelby, ITCA, and Congress' Role in Protecting Voting Rights

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:22pm

Following a wave of voter suppression laws over the last few years, Texas passed a restrictive voter identification law, which unfairly burdened communities of color all across the state. The new law was rejected as discriminatory under the federal…

"Our Journey is Not Complete" – Equal Pay Requires Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act

"Our Journey is Not Complete" – Equal Pay Requires Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act

By Cynthia Bell, ACLU & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:31am

In the 50 years since President John Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act of 1963, wages for women still do not equal those of men...

Federal Reforms Needed to Increase Voter Access

Federal Reforms Needed to Increase Voter Access

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Shawn Jain, Media Strategist, ACLU at 4:18pm

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an important hearing entitled, The State of the Right to Vote After the 2012 Election. The timing is ripe for the committee to consider the state of our most fundamental right as citizens.  Just…

Groundbreaking Senate Hearing Shines a Light on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Groundbreaking Senate Hearing Shines a Light on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Kimberly Humphrey, Washington Legislative Office at 10:23am

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a landmark hearing entitled, Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline. It is the first time a congressional panel will look at this disturbing…

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