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.

 


 

Is Race Discrimination in School Discipline a Real Problem?

Is Race Discrimination in School Discipline a Real Problem?

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:04pm
The Department of Justice and Department of Education announced today what we have known to be true for a long time: yes, race discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.
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…

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…

Making School a Safe Place for All Students

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:35am

In 19 states across the country, corporal punishment in schools is still legal. Sadly, in many states, children are better protected against physical discipline in detention facilities than they are in their own classrooms. That fact is a startling…

Executive Action Needed to End Employment Discrimination

Executive Action Needed to End Employment Discrimination

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:27am

The following was originally published on MSNBC.com:

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama promised to make 2014 a "year of action." The Obama's words offer reason for optimism, and he touched on a number of important civil…

Equal Pay by the Numbers

Equal Pay by the Numbers

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:02pm

Over fifty after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Senate is poised to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a much needed update to this law. While the Equal Pay Act was a historic piece of legislation that finally acknowledged that women…

Who's the Boss? Not Who You Think.

Who's the Boss? Not Who You Think.

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:58pm

Meet Tony and Angela.  Angela is a floor worker at a manufacturing plant and Tony is her shift supervisor. Tony’s boss, who works offsite, decides whom to hire or fire at this particular plant.  But Tony makes Angela’s schedule, gives…

Fulfilling the Promise of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Fulfilling the Promise of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

By Lilly Ledbetter & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:08pm

The following op-ed was originally published by Roll Call.

A little more than five years ago, after years of fighting for the rights of those demanding pay equality, we stood together at the White House watching President Barack Obama take…

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…

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…

Statistics image