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.

 


 

Who Really Won the Election?  Democracy Did.

Who Really Won the Election? Democracy Did.

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:00pm
On Tuesday, despite the massive hurdles put in front of voters since 2010 – citizens nonetheless, fought through voter suppression tactics, misinformation, long lines, then longer lies, and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to have their voices heard and votes count.
On the First Anniversary of Wal-Mart v. Dukes:  Stand Up or Be Trampled

On the First Anniversary of Wal-Mart v. Dukes: Stand Up or Be Trampled

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:27am
Image above: Betty Dukes with Senator Al Franken. The author, Deborah Vagins, to the immediate right, joined by coalition partners.

Over a decade ago, I had the great honor to be part of a team representing Betty Dukes, an employee at Wal-Mart who…

An Unhappy Anniversary for the Equal Pay Act

An Unhappy Anniversary for the Equal Pay Act

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:35pm

Yesterday, on a procedural vote, the U.S. Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill intended to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, to move forward. Unfortunately, the 52-47 vote means more delay for an already…

The Paycheck Fairness Act:  It's Time to Stop the Catch 22

The Paycheck Fairness Act: It's Time to Stop the Catch 22

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Georgeanne M. Usova, Washington Legislative Office at 11:16am

Last week, Terri Kelly testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee about pay discrimination. In her nine year career as a pharmaceutical sales rep, Kelly was extremely successful—one of the best-performing reps in…

Keeping Ohio’s Souls at the Polls: Sen. Durbin Holds Field Hearing on Ohio Voting Law

Keeping Ohio’s Souls at the Polls: Sen. Durbin Holds Field Hearing on Ohio Voting Law

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio at 11:30am

On Monday, May 7, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a field hearing in Cleveland, Ohio to examine the impact of Ohio’s new voting law, HB 194.

We Can't Wait For Fair Pay

We Can't Wait For Fair Pay

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:02am

Today is Equal Pay Day, the day into 2012 that a woman must work, on average, to make she same amount a man did in 2011 alone.

ACLU to Speak at Briefing on Workplace Discrimination Against LGBT Employees

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:54pm

On Thursday, the ACLU, as well as partner organizations, will speak at a congressional briefing hosted by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on the subject of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace and the steps that can…

Counting On Us: Release of New Civil Rights Data Is the First Step in Helping Our Kids

Counting On Us: Release of New Civil Rights Data Is the First Step in Helping Our Kids

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:21pm

Every day, students in public schools across the country are facing harsh disciplinary measures that may have dire consequences for the rest of their lives.

That was confirmed this week when the Department of Education released Part Two…

Florida Sets the Stage: U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Holds Field Hearing on State's Regressive Voting Laws

Florida Sets the Stage: U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Holds Field Hearing on State's Regressive Voting Laws

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Howard L. Simon, ACLU of Florida at 2:24pm

With Florida’s primary just days away, all eyes are on the Sunshine State. And in an effort to shine a light on the state’s new regressive voting laws, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights,…

Protections for Home Care Workers: Ending An Unjust Legacy

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:31pm

"Year in and year out, Evelyn Coke left her Queens house early to go to the homes of elderly, sick, often dying people. She bathed them, cooked for them, helped them dress and monitored their medications. She sometimes worked three consecutive…

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