In her native country of Burundi, Suavis Furaha was an office manager at the United Food Programme. She left that job behind - along with her country, her husband, and everyone she knew - when she fled the country with her four children in 2013. She fled because she feared for her life and the life of her children; they are safe now but she still fears for the life of her husband, who remains in Burundi. Now Suavis lives in Westbrook with her school-aged kids. She is studying English in Adult Ed; she also speaks French, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, and Swahili.
On Monday, July 14, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new federal guidance to protect pregnant workers from job discrimination. These revisions are the first the EEOC has made in the last 30 years. The new guidelines make it clear that any form of workplace discrimination or harassment against pregnant workers is a form of sex discrimination and is, therefore, illegal.
Last week, the Pew Charitable Trust Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation released a report examining state prison health care spending. Overall, Maine has the eighth highest percentage of elderly prisoners in the country, with 15.2% of the population over the age of 50.
Late last year, when the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), it was viewed by many as one of the highlights of an already-historic year for LGBT people. In Maine we have protections so that no one can be fired or not hired based on their sexual orientation, but the majority of states do not have such a law. So when ENDA passed, we celebrated here in Maine.
This weekend, the Boston Globe published an article focused on Governor LePage’s prioritization of arrests over treatment in response to Maine's rise in drug abuse rates. The article pointed out that last month, the governors of New England convened a meeting to address the sharp rise in opioid overdoses across the region and to discuss best practices to combating this tragic public health problem.
Many of us are still reeling from the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The decision, delivered on Monday, concluded that closely held for-profit corporations do not have to comply with the contraceptive mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. Closely held corporations are, generally, corporations that have more than 50% of their outstanding stock owned by five or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year.
Last week, the New York Times published an article on sky-high phone rates and money transfer fees in prison. The article focuses on Clallam Bay Corrections Center, a state prison in rural Washington. There, phone calls start at $3.15, outgoing emails at 33 cents and all money transfers at $4.95. Two private companies, Global Tel-Link and JPay, are contracted to provide all phone, Internet and money transfers to the prisoners there.