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Debra L. Ness
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Debra L. Ness is the President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Throughout her career, Ness has fought for social justice and equality for women, people of color, workers, seniors, immigrants, people living in poverty, and all those who too often are ignored or left behind. Her extensive background in public policy makes her a remarkably effective advocate with a deep understanding of what women and families need at home, in the workplace, and in the health care arena. She is a highly respected and oft-quoted expert who testifies frequently before Congress, speaks before prestigious audiences, and serves on the boards of some of the nation's most influential organizations.

Entries by Debra L. Ness

What the Overtime Proposal Is Really About

(0) Comments | Posted August 21, 2015 | 11:23 AM

In July, the U.S. Department of Labor demonstrated an exceptional commitment to America's working families by proposing an update to the rules that determine who qualifies for overtime pay. Described as a major effort to support the middle class, the update could put more money in...

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The Wrong Way

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2015 | 2:19 PM

This week, extremists in the House of Representatives seem to be firmly in charge as their fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) funding bill advances quickly. This legislation is shocking for the many ways it would take our country backward. It...

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A Father's Day Reminder and Challenge to Dads in Congress

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2015 | 5:15 PM

Sometimes, I think paid leave is a little like good health. Those who have it take it for granted, and those who don't can't imagine life without the struggles that lacking it can bring.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have paid family leave through our employers...

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Extraordinary: Facebook Says 'Not On Our Watch' to Poverty Wages, Family Unfriendly Policies

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2015 | 4:54 PM

Wow. Today's announcement by Facebook marks the dawn of a new day in this country. At a time when federal lawmakers are dragging their feet on fair and family friendly workplace policies, corporate America is beginning to step up by adopting these policies voluntarily -- in Facebook's case,...

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Paid Leave Announcements Confirm the Country Is Ready for 21st Century Leave Policies

(1) Comments | Posted March 27, 2015 | 5:18 PM

The announcement that White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez will soon kick off a historic 'Lead On Leave' tour is exciting news that comes amidst strong, widespread demand and support for paid leave.* And the announcement by Microsoft that...

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200 Million Reasons to Support Paid Family and Medical Leave

(2) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 12:13 PM

22 years ago this week, President Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) -- the country's first and only federal law to address the dual demands of job and family. As the organization that drafted and helped lead the fight for the FMLA, we at the...

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The Supreme Court Should Say 'No' to Pregnancy Discrimination

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 1:19 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service (UPS) this week, a case that could help secure -- or erode -- pregnant workers' right to equal treatment. A ruling against Young could pose a significant threat to the health and economic security...

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Reasons to Celebrate -- and to be Vigilant -- this National Work and Family Month

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2014 | 6:15 PM

Since 2003, Congress and the president have designated every October "National Work and Family Month" -- a time to reaffirm that making the country's workplaces more fair and family friendly should be a national priority. As the month draws to a close, there are clear signs of progress since last...

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Why the Failed Paycheck Fairness Act Vote Matters

(3) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 6:32 PM

It has been quite the week for fair pay for women. On Monday, we witnessed a shameful act when opponents blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate. On Tuesday, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that there has been no significant progress in...

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The Dignity and Value of Work and Family

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 1:14 PM

Amable Alvarez grew up in a poor, rural village in Spain. As a child, he never got the chance to attend school because his family couldn't afford to be without his help on the farm. But, every once in a while, Amable would slip away to listen outside the village...

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Women's Equality Matters

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 5:41 PM

August 26, Women's Equality Day, commemorates the day when women in the United States took a giant step toward equality by winning the right to vote. Sadly, it's all too clear 94 years later that it was just one step on the long road to equality -- and we're not...

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America's Families Expect and Deserve Better: 31 States Get Grades of 'D' or 'F' in New Study

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 12:26 PM

On Monday, hundreds of lawmakers, businesses, workers, advocates, administration officials and President Obama will gather for a historic White House Summit on Working Families in Washington, D.C. The National Partnership is proud to be participating in the event, and our new state-by-state analysis of laws that...

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#WhatMothersNeed This Mother's Day

(0) Comments | Posted May 11, 2014 | 3:08 PM

Mother's Day is here. That means that if you're like many people, you've recently spent some time asking yourself what your mother (or the mothers in your life) need. Flowers, brunch and chocolates tend to be the gifts of choice, but there is much more that can and should be...

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Let's Leave Mad Men-Era Pay Policies in the Past

(2) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 4:56 PM

There is a reason many of us bristle at the thought of what the nation's workplaces were like for women during the Mad Men era: the almost universal recognition that it was a time when sexism was rampant, when women were routinely devalued, disrespected and blatantly discriminated against. The good...

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Congress Must Heed the President's Historic Call for Paid Leave, Fair Pay and a Stronger Health Care System

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 2:03 PM

President Obama's State of the Union address was a compelling call for a nation that is more family friendly and fair, with a health care system that provides quality care and coverage people can rely on. He asked lawmakers to advance the most fundamental of American values: equal...

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A Strong Start to 2014 for Working Families

(0) Comments | Posted January 2, 2014 | 3:38 PM

2013 was a year of great progress for America's working families. Laws guaranteeing people the right to earn paid sick days were passed in Portland, Oregon, New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey. Rhode Island passed the nation's third paid family leave program. We saw new attention and support...

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Then and Now: Pregnancy Discrimination Hurts Women and Their Families

(8) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 10:47 AM

It's the early 1970s. The women's movement has made great strides. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," featuring independent, career woman Mary Richards, is climbing the ratings charts. Women are entering the workforce in record numbers. And yet, women face significant barriers to success and equality in the workplace, including being...

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A Bitter Pill: New Census Data Show Gender-Based Wage Gap Is Largely Unchanged Since 2002

(1) Comments | Posted September 18, 2013 | 2:06 PM

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau's annual survey released this week reveal that the gap between the wages paid to women and men in this country has not improved in the last 11 years. This is a bitter pill for the nation's women and families, and a...

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A Bittersweet Labor Day

(0) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 4:23 PM

For more than a century, Labor Day has been a time to pay tribute to the enormous contributions of working people in this country. It is also a time for those of us who seek fairness and equality for all workers to consider how far we've come, and how far...

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One Step Closer to Equity for Peace Corps Volunteers

(21) Comments | Posted July 26, 2013 | 5:58 PM

Here's a fact that may surprise you: Women who work for the Peace Corps at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and women who volunteer for the Peace Corps and serve overseas receive different health care coverage from the federal government. Currently, a woman who works for the Peace Corps in...

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