This has been a busy year for NWLC’s growing litigation efforts in state and federal courts. This year, NWLC litigators have brought novel sex discrimination cases, secured important administrative enforcement actions from the federal government, and submitted over two dozen amicus curiae briefs in courts across the country, pushing the law forward and centering those most impacted by pending cases. Litigation continues to be a vital tool in NWLC’s arsenal to combat harmful laws and policies and advance gender justice nationwide.

As we provide these updates and share our victories, we also need to name that this continues to be a time of outrage and urgency given the rise in lawless rulings from the federal judiciary following the overturning of Roe. To do this work without naming our continued anger and grief first would be normalizing these threats to our democracy. But, as our President and CEO Fatima Goss Graves has made clear, NWLC “will never stop fighting for what’s right and a future where we, not the courts or anti-abortion extremists, can control our own bodies, lives, and futures.”

In 2023, our administrative complaint on behalf of Mylissa Farmer, a woman denied emergency medical treatment for pregnancy complications following the legal chaos caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s devastating and unjustifiable Dobbs decision, garnered the first federal enforcement actions against hospitals for refusing to provide emergency abortion care. We also achieved important interim victories in two of our cases—our state Establishment Clause challenge to Missouri’s abortion restrictions and our equal pay case in New Jersey—both allowing those cases to proceed while building novel case law. We filed new matters this year, including a second class action challenging Aetna’s discriminatory practices against LGBTQ+ policyholders seeking fertility treatments—this time asserting a nationwide injunctive class—as well as an EEOC charge on behalf of female truck drivers to challenge a policy that in the name of preventing sex harassment has led to refusing to hire women as truck drivers. And we are continuing to press the Biden Administration to issue new regulations under federal civil rights laws via our several cases challenging harmful Trump-era rules. NWLC also filed 26 amicus briefs this year in a range of cases that implicated important civil rights protections, including five before the U.S. Supreme Court.

NWLC’s dedicated team of litigators includes Michelle Banker, Director of Litigation for Reproductive Rights and Health, Alison Tanner, Senior Litigation Counsel for Reproductive Rights and Health,  Rachel Smith, Senior Litigation Counsel for Education and Workplace Justice, K.M. Bell, Senior Litigation Counsel for Reproductive Rights and Health, Christen Hammock Jones, Litigation Counsel for Reproductive Rights and Health, Donya Khadem, Litigation Fellow for Reproductive Rights and Health, and the soon-to-be-hired Director of Litigation for Education and Workplace Justice. The intense work involved in NWLC’s cases and amicus briefs is further supported by NWLC attorneys on each program team, many of whom work on these cases alongside their important policy work. And our colleagues throughout the Law Center provide invaluable contributions to our litigation efforts: the Development team helps secure pro bono law firm co-counsel; the Finance team helps track our litigators’ time and supports our filing crucial attorneys’ fees petitions; and the Campaigns and Communications team amplifies NWLC’s litigation work to change the public narrative and our culture.

While it is always exciting to obtain a positive court ruling, settle a case in our clients’ favor, or have our amicus brief cited by a court, we know that each litigation action we take is an opportunity to lift up the stories of the real people impacted by the law. We know these efforts are one part of our organization’s collective work towards gender justice. Thank you for supporting NWLC’s litigation work across the organization.

Read the full highlights.