Lobby Days: Your Chance to Speak Out

On May 6 & 7, 2003, you will have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of workers around the country. On those two days in May, Workplace Fairness and our sister organization, the National Employment Lawyers Association, are cosponsoring Lobby Days in Washington, DC, on behalf of the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act. We need as many workers as possible across the country to participate, so that this is the year we finally are able to pass a law correcting this fundamental unfairness in our tax code.

• How Lobby Days Work: While some of the details are still in the process of being finalized, here’s a basic primer on what will happen. Early in the morning, you will attend a briefing session in downtown Washington, DC, where experts on the legislation and on the lobbying process will discuss the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act (House version/Senate version) and what to expect when visiting Congressional offices. You will have an opportunity to ask any questions you might have, especially if you have not lobbied before. You then will be matched with an attorney who will accompany you to your Capitol Hill visits, and given a folder of resource materials to leave in each office you visit. Next, you’ll travel to Capitol Hill and meet with your Senators and Representative (or most likely, a member of their staffs), along with your participating attorney and possibly some other participants from your state or Congressional district, and ask for their support and/or cosponsorship of the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act. We then ask that you fill out a feedback form with your impressions of the visit, including any necessary followup, and if possible, participate in an evening “debriefing” session where participants share their experiences with the Lobby Day staff. It may sound difficult if you’ve never done it before, but previous participants can all attest that it’s easy and fun, and most importantly, makes a real difference in moving this legislation forward.

• Why Should I Participate?: If you are currently participating in a lawsuit, then you have probably learned by now what is at stake financially for you should you win or settle your lawsuit. You may be forced to pay a significant portion (and in some cases, all and then some!) of your award or settlement in taxes, leaving you without full compensation for the income you have lost and the pain and suffering you have undergone. Your tax bill could amount to tens of thousands of dollars, and depending on your tax status and the attorneys fees awarded, you could even end up owing money for winning your case. While the cost of traveling to Washington, DC, may be significant for you, depending on where you live, it could cost you much much more if the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act is not passed this year. At this time of year, when taxes weigh heavily on everyone’s mind, we hope that you will do what you can to avoid having to pay considerably more than your fair share of taxes on your civil rights award. Even if you are not currently participating in a civil rights lawsuit, perhaps you know someone, such as a friend or family member, who is affected by this issue. Please urge them to participate, and if they cannot, consider participating on their behalf, and making sure their story is heard.

• What if I Cannot Come to DC on May 6 & 7?: We realize that not everyone affected by this issue will be able to travel to Washington, DC to participate in Lobby Days in person. That is why we have several other ways that you can also participate, even if you cannot be there personally:

During the Congressional recess, April 14-25: you can make appointments to meet with your Senators and Representative locally, when your members of Congress will be in their home districts. For more information on how to do this, please contact Workplace Fairness, and a member of our staff will be in touch with you shortly.

Talk to your lawyer about participating in Lobby Days and encouraging other clients in discrimination cases to participate. More information for attorneys is available at the NELA Lobby Day page.

Participate in Lobby Days from home by calling or e-mailing your Senators and Representative on May 6th and 7th to urge them to co-sponsor the CRTRA. You can call your Senator by dialing the Senate Operator at (202) 224-3121 and asking for your Senator’s office, and can reach your Representative by dialing the House Operator at (202) 225-3121 and asking for your Represenative’s office.

Use our Action Center to find contact Senate and House contact information and to sign up to receive email alerts on the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act and other Workplace Fairness legislative efforts. Sign up here.

If you don’t think that you can make a difference, please read this article about some teenagers who refused to take no for an answer: Utah Teens Gain State Study of Gender-Pay Inequities. If their efforts don’t inspire you, I don’t know what will. Whether you’re with us in person or with us in spirit, we need everything you can give on May 6 and 7. Make your plans today!

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.