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(Washington D.C.) Today, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a comprehensive bill that funds critical military programs. The House and the Senate approved the final bill without the inclusion of two harmful provisions that would have allowed taxpayer funding to be used to support unfair and unsafe workplaces.

Section 1094, also known as the Russell Amendment, would have emboldened taxpayer-funded discrimination by permitting federal contractors and grantees to use their religious beliefs to discriminate in hiring and employment practices.  Another provision would have substantially limited Executive Order 13673, also known as Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, which requires employers to report violations of labor laws—including discrimination and sexual harassment claims—and prohibits mandatory arbitration of these claims.

The following is a statement by Fatima Goss Graves, the National Women’s Law Center’s Senior Vice President for Program:

“We are relieved that Congress rejected dangerous provisions in the annual defense bill, which would have jeopardized the rights of working people, especially women and LGBTQ individuals.  If these amendments had passed, an employer could have claimed a right to fire a woman for being single and taking birth control or marrying a partner of the same sex. An employer also could have denied a sexual harassment survivor her day in court. This is an important victory at a time when hateful public discourse aimed at vulnerable people is on the rise. It’s crucial for Congress to stop discrimination in its tracks.”

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For immediate release: December 8, 2016
Contact:  Olympia Feil (ofeil@nwlc.org) or Maria Patrick (mpatrick@nwlc.org), 202-588-5180

The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity.  The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.  For more information on the Center, visit: www.nwlc.org.

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