Will a Biden Presidency Restore Victims’ Rights?

The new Biden-Harris administration has a long list of tasks to complete in order to make society fairer and safer for victims of assault, harassment and discrimination.

A rally in support of rape victims in Minneapolis on December 17, 2016. (Fibonacci blue / Flickr)

The past four years have not been favorable to women and minorities in the United States. The the outgoing Trump administration made it more difficult for victims of assault, harassment and discrimination to assert their rights and get their chances in court. As a result, the new Biden administration has its work cut out for it.

If we assume that Trump’s mission was to undo everything the Obama-Biden team has accomplished, it should be a simple step to look at what lies ahead for the new administration.

The list of Trump-era parodies is long. On college campuses, victims of sexual assault were marginalized by rules demanding formal live hearings, discouraging victims from pursuing Title IX claims. Title IX guidance clarifying legal protections for transgender students has been cancelled and federal funds were threatened for sports programs which included transgender participants.

Many workplace protections have taken a heavy hit. Guide to sexual harassment has been removed from the EEOC website, apparently due to disagreements over LGBTQ protections. The Obama era Fair Remuneration and Safe Workplaces Decree, requiring the federal contractor to respect labor and civil rights laws, has been repealed. Protections for transgender workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 were taken away, and transgender people were banned serve in the army.

To add insult to injury, after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor protests in the summer, administration was banned anti-discrimination trainings in federal agencies and contractors, calling them “divisive anti-American propaganda.”

Other forays included a cancellation of article 1557 non-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act and regulations protect women, people of color and others from housing discrimination based on disparate impacts. In all events of life, from buying a wedding cake to adopting a child, people asserting religious beliefs have had virtually carte blanche to discriminate.

This is the America in which the Biden administration – always seen by 20 percent of the country as illegitimate — will flounder on inauguration day. What will Biden’s priorities be, how will he be able to accomplish them, and most importantly, what can we expect in the months and years to come?

Joe Biden speaking in Altoona, Iowa, in August 2019. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

From the start, Biden was committed to breathing new life into his iconic legislative achievement, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Last year, the House passed a bipartisan VAWA reboot that includes protections against online abuse among other important safeguards, but the Senate version of VAWA Reauthorization Act was retained by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. With a different administration and perhaps a different Senate, VAWA could see a new light. Even without its passage, victims of domestic violence should be reassured that they will be heard and treated with dignity by this administration.

On campuses, changes to Title IX that have disabled victims of sexual assault should be relaxed or canceled. Biden promised a “Quick end” to the regulations, but these rules were enacted by a formal regulatory process and has to go through an equally long process to be undone. Attorneys General of 18 States having pursued to overturn the regulation, so Biden can suspend the rule and write a new rule to replace it. Even if the existing rules were upheld in court, Biden’s team could release advice to help schools bypass them while pursuing more fundamental change. For victims of assault on campus, these guidelines could help alleviate concerns about reporting misconduct.

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For the LGBTQ community, change can’t come soon enough. Biden pledged to get passage of HR 5, the Equality Act, in its first 100 days. The bill would extend to this vulnerable population the benefits of the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, programs funded by the federal government. and jury service.

Even though HR 5 does not become lawBiden can do a lot to remove barriers and ensure equal treatment for this group. He explicitly engaged to restore the protections of the Obama era to all aspects of life by reviving these policies and reaffirming that the Civil Rights Act extends to members of the LGTBQ community.

In the workplace, expect to see changes big and small. Biden, a strong supporter of trade unions and workers’ rights, will pursue legislation that improves working conditions and employee benefits. He pledged to see the bipartite pass Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers of 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to workers due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, requires them to work with employees seeking accommodations in the event of pregnancy and prohibits them from retaliating or in any way interfering with the right of a pregnant worker to seek accommodation Reasonable accommodation.

The Women’s March in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jan. 21, 2017. (Fibonacci blue / Creative Commons)

Biden co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act when it was introduced in 2007, it pledged to continue fighting for equal pay for women, and it calls on federal agencies to collect and disseminate data on pay gaps. Biden supports the creation of a negotiation skills training program for women and girls and supports legislation that allows women to organize unions. Through executive orders, it could prohibit employees from asking questions about a candidate’s salary history, which has historically been used to maintain lower wages for female workers. Importantly, Biden has also said he will strengthen the enforcement powers of the Equal. Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) the agency will therefore be allowed to more aggressively prosecute companies that engage in illegal practices.

One final important point: Now that both Georgia Senate seats have gone to the Democrats, an important reform expected to be passed by Congress and enacted by Biden is the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act). Forced arbitration almost always favors the more powerful party – the employer, the manufacturer, the service provider – and results in covert procedures designed to prevent the public from being informed of the illegal behavior found in these cases. Forced arbitration is why we didn’t know until it was too late about sexual harassment involving well-known perpetrators such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. This change and the end of the secret settlements would make all the difference for the victims.

Since Biden-Harris won the election with over seven million popular votes and garnered 306 electoral votes, they have a mandate, much of which comes from minority women. The new administration will have a long list of tasks to do in order to make society fairer for these women.

Fortunately for all of us, the transition team is working on build an experienced and professional administration who knows how to enforce policies.

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