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.

 


 

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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 were owed equal pay for equal work, it's clear that additional improvements are still needed. As we "celebrate" Equal Pay Day on April 8, the symbolic day into 2014 a woman must work to earn as much as a man did in 2013 alone, there is no better time for Congress to vote for equal pay now.
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.

At an event with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney…

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…

Let People Vote

The Democracy Restoration Act: Preventing a Lifetime Punishment

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:52pm

Tayna Fogle is a mother of two, grandmother of six, a leader in her community, and a powerful example of how difficult it is for citizens to regain their voting rights.

Two decades ago, Tayna served a sentence for a non-violent drug offense…

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…

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…

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…

Women who work full time still earn, on average, only $0.77 for ever $1 men earn

Equal Pay's Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:14am

Four years ago, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate. The bill, which would have helped close the pay gap between men and women by updating the Equal Pay Act of 1963, had majority support. But because a few senators blocked…

The author with Representative John Lewis

The Time for Waiting is Gone

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:56pm

Recently, I had a meeting with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).  I was bringing some youth leaders to his office to discuss racial justice and education.  When we arrived, he starting telling us his story.  We were in awe.  It was a history…

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…

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