Public Policy

Below are articles about the progress made on two important issues that our branch has focused on:  equal pay and sexual assault.

Also, see the home page to read an article on the fight to pass paid leave by supporting the Family Act.

AAUW Helps Fund Case to End Salary History Discrimination in California

Aileen Rizo: Blazing a Trail for Equal Pay

Harpar Bizaar's quote about Alison Rizo

What would you do if you found out that your male co-worker made a lot more than you?

In in 2012, Aileen learned that her salary was lower than a co-worker with less experience and less education – based solely on her prior work history in a different state. For the past six years, she has worked tirelessly on the quest to make “Equal Pay for Equal Work” a reality.

Alison Rizo - BioRizo v. Yovino

Her landmark case raised the issue as to whether prior salary histories have perpetuated the gender pay gap.

Rizo resisted – and persisted – causing change to California’s Equal Pay laws and winning her federal case against her employer!

She’s become a familiar face in Sacramento, testifying in support of legislation that has been enacted to ensure that previous pay is no longer a determining factor when setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pay for a worker.

California is now one of six states to ban the use of salary history when negotiating a worker’s compensation.

Rizo’s lawsuit, Rizo v. Yovino, has led to a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals full hearing and decision in April that, under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, employers cannot pay women less than men just because of a previous job’s salary.

The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund supported Rizo in her lawsuit.

Her attorney in the federal lawsuit is Dan Siegel of Oakland and her case has received financial support from the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund.

As Rizo worked with advocates on the Sacramento legislation, she learned that her member of the Assembly consistently voted against the bills she was favoring.

She is now a candidate to replace him. Rizo’s story was featured on the New Republic blog July 19, 2018 and in the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

You can read more about her experience and court case at:


If you’d like to support AAUW’s efforts to obtain equality for women & girls, you can donate to the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund at this link:



Violence & Sexual Harassment

Military Sexual Assault:  The Invisible War Nominated for an Oscar

AAUW is thrilled to announce that The Invisible War, a film about military sexual assault that features several LAF-supported plaintiffs, received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. This nomination comes as no surprise after the film received the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was listed as the 10th movie and the only documentary on Time‘s top 100 movies of 2012. ranked it as the best film of 2012 based on an aggregate of film reviews.

Activity/Resource:   If you haven’t seen this powerful film yet, it is available to rent from Netflix and to purchase from Amazon.   Our members are encouraged to host a screening of this film for their friends and family.

Hearings on Military Sexual Abuse

The Invisible War and the lawsuits that AAUW supports have raised the public’s awareness about military sexual abuse, and now there is enough public pressure that government leaders are addressing the issue.

    • On January 11, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held its 2013 statutory enforcement report and briefing on sexual assault in the military, and LAF Program Manager Holly Kearl and Regulatory Affairs Manager Beth Scott attended on behalf of AAUW and Kearl wrote about it for AAUW.
    • Congress, the House Armed Services Committee Chair Howard McKeon (CA-R) has committed to holding a hearing on the issue this month in the Military Personnel Subcommittee. It may begin as early as January 23.

Crossing the Line Talks at the United Nations – Sexual Harassment in Schools

In extremely exciting news, the United Nations accepted AAUW’s proposal for a panel on sexual harassment in schools during the 2013 Commission on the Status of Women. The theme this year is “Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls.” The panel will take place during the parallel events for nonprofit organizations. Kearl will talk about AAUW’s findings and recommendations, and several high school students will share their experiences.

You can help!  Please consider making a tax deductable donation to the AAUW Fund to help balance the scales of justice for women.