AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund

The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund (LAF) works to combat sex discrimination in higher education and the workplace.

LAF works to combat sex discrimination through community and campus outreach programs, a resource library and online advocacy tools, a Legal Referral Network, and various research reports. In collaboration with the Public Policy and Government Relations department, LAF seeks amicus curiae opportunities in workplace sex discrimination cases. LAF also provides support to workplace sex discrimination cases that have the potential to make a difference for all women.

Purpose and Goal:
The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund was conceived and implemented to aggregate member contributions to invest in activities that prevent and combat sex discrimination and promote gender equity through support of litigation and educational programs. Beginning January 1, 2009, LAF case support was expanded to address discrimination cases that protect women in all workplaces, as well as those that arise in the academic context. Specifically, LAF will seek to support plaintiffs with significant cases that have the potential to set precedent and protect others against discrimination in the future.

Concept:
The establishment and implementation of LAF reflects AAUW’s philosophical commitment to advancing gender equity as described in the AAUW Value Promise:

By joining AAUW, you belong to a community that breaks through
educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance.

Approach:
Over the years, LAF has provided members resources, tools, and tactics to address a wide range of gender equity challenges through a four-part strategy:

  • Providing financial and moral support for legal cases involving gender equity through:
    1. Financial case support for plaintiffs in cases involving gender-based workplace discrimination;
    2. Moral support for plaintiffs seeking redress for workplace discrimination such as Lilly Ledbetter, with whom AAUW has worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill for passage of legislation to restore the rights of pay discrimination victims decimated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.;
    3. Travel grants and stipends for plaintiffs and attorneys are provided to make it possible for them to present at AAUW state organization meetings, and
    4. Frequent participation as amicus curiae in cases affecting women’s rights specifically and civil rights generally.
    5. Maintaining a database of lawyers who specialize in workplace discrimination cases and sharing contact information with those who are seeking assistance
  • Building an extensive online resource library of accurate background information, legal facts, statistics and credible outside resources on issues of sex discrimination.
  • Creating LAF Campus Outreach Programs as AAUW branch-campus collaborations to prevent, identify and combat sex discrimination, advance gender equity, and empower women to advocate for and protect themselves.
  • LAF staff work throughout the year to communicate the mission and current activity of the various aspects of the LAF enterprise, Including
    1. LAF Update is a quarterly hard copy publication that is disseminated to all state and branch LAF officers, all LAF donors, and all others on request ion.
    2. LAF Express is a monthly e-newsletter.
    3. Both may also be accessed online, where members can sign up to be included on the distribution list.

Structure
LAF operates as a restricted fund of AAUW’s 501(c)(3) charitable structure, which means that donors may specifically direct their support to LAF and their donations to LAF are and will continue to be tax deductible on donors their personal federal tax returns.

  • Donations to LAF support all of the activities described, and
  • Funding allocations are determined by the Board based on funds available and current requests.

LAF Strategy
AAUW’s LAF case support aligns workplace with our Value Promise to break down educational and economic barriers so that all women will have a fair chance. We provide funds for plaintiffs to pursue cases that arise both in the wider workplace and in academia.

  • LAF focuses our direct financial case support strategically. The plaintiffs whose cases we support involve legal issues that will clearly impact our fight for pay equity and workplaces free of sex discrimination and show significant potential to set precedents that will protect women in the future.
  • AAUW supports the cases of plaintiffs who are combating sex discrimination in the workplace – both in academia and the wider workplace. We accept new cases on a rolling basis.
  • AAUW continues our long-term support as amicus curiae in gender discrimination and other civil rights cases.
  • AAUW works closely with members and other respected organizations that are active in the gender equity arena to identify key cases with significant issues that align with our mission and would benefit by our expertise and credibility.
  • AAUW urges organizational partners, collaborators, and members to help us target cases in which AAUW’s voice will make a difference.

AAUW member financial support is essential.

Your help and funding support for LAF is essential if we are to continue to leverage our strength, reputation, credibility, and resources for litigation that will truly help us galvanize our commitment to gender equity and fulfill our promise to break through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance individuals and their names.

For any donations by individuals beyond branch donations, please include amounts donated by individuals and their names. Contact: Virginia Lyttle, Legal Advocacy Fund Chair.