Victoria A. Lipnic
Three times in the nine years I have served at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), I've had the honor of being on panels with and getting to listen to the story of Willie King. Ms. King was a long-time employee of the EEOC who retired a few years back. As a young woman, she was a secretary to Dr. Martin Luther King, and she helped to type up his "Letter From Birmingham Jail." It was always fascinating to hear the story of how she had to read his handwriting from the scraps of paper he wrote on that were smuggled out of the jail. That letter would become a seminal document of democracy and justice.
"America's Workforce: Empowering All" is the official theme for this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
As we commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize that Hispanics have been an integral part of the American tapestry from the start - as well as here at the EEOC.
"East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." When Rudyard Kipling said that, he was already wrong as far as the United States was concerned. The immigration of the first Japanese to the United States occurred on May 7, 1843, and the Transcontinental Railroad, which was built in large part by immigrants from China, was completed on May 10, 1869. Since then, people from all over Asia and the Pacific have not only come to the United States in ever-greater numbers, they have become an integral part of American society, contributing to our nation in countless ways.
In 2018, we frequently hear encouraging slogans such as "70 is the new 50" (fill in your own favorite numbers as you wish!). But all too often we see the discouraging reality that being over 40 can be the "new ancient." It seems in some employment sectors, the assumption is that you can't be "cutting edge" if you're not young - only a dull blade. And equally disturbing, too many older Americans face discrimination based on these outdated notions with the assumptions understood rather than spoken.
Today, April 10th, we recognize Equal Pay Day -- the point of time in the calendar year when, after adding up the wages of all working women, their median wage equals that of the median wage of working men from the prior year. In other words, only after working the first four months of the new year do working women start to catch up. And that is only If we separate out women of color -- their Equal Pay Day is months even further into the year.
Sometime in the 1830s, a slaveowner on Maryland's Eastern Shore threw a heavy metal weight at a slave. He missed his target and hit another slave - a young girl named Araminta "Minty" Ross.
That injury caused Minty a lifetime of seizures, headaches and visions. However, it didn't stop her. Minty Ross, later known as Harriet Tubman, would show the world what pure courage looks like. When she was 27, braving the horrors that threatened a fugitive slave, she escaped under the cover of night to Philadelphia and freedom.
Myrlie Evers-Williams stated, "I have reached a point in my life where I understand the pain and the challenges; and my attitude is one of standing up with open arms to meet them all."
This year will mark the 32nd year of the federal holiday recognizing the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(September / October, 2017)
From September 15 to October 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. This observance encompasses many memorable dates of Latin American Heritage. Indeed, September 15 was chosen as the start of Hispanic Heritage Month because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua - all in 1821. Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their independence days later in September.
Social movements are made up of many kinds of people working together for a common goal. But sometimes movements are encapsulated by a few very special people who crystallize and symbolize the set of ideals they espouse.
Older Americans Month honors older Americans and celebrates their contributions to our country. The EEOC recognizes the value that older workers bring to the workplace and to our economy as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) this year.
During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we recognize the many contributions of generations of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders to building this great nation. From farmworkers to railroad laborers, to entrepreneurs and scientists, and to members of the armed forces and public servants, AAPIs have helped shaped the very fabric of America.
(April 4, 2017)
Today the nation celebrates Equal Pay Day, and the EEOC has many reasons and motivation to do so. Of course, combating (and, hopefully, someday eliminating) employment discrimination is our core mission, and there is a long history of workplace discrimination directed at women. There is no justification for paying anyone less simply because of their gender. I am absolutely committed to the EEOC's push for equal pay and will continue to make sure our agency remains a leader in this area.
This month, we have been recognizing National Women's History month. The theme for this year's celebration is "Honoring Trailblazing Women in Business and Labor."
February marks recognition of African American History Month for our nation. I am delighted that one of my very first acts as Acting Chair of the EEOC is to celebrate and recognize this month and the achievements of African Americans in this country.