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Working parents and caregivers have just been given legal protection in New York City.

Being someone's caregiver is like having a second job. So you shouldn't have to worry about losing your first.

Working parents and caregivers have just been given legal protection in New York City.

In 2014, Kashawna Holmes was fired from her job at a senior companion care program in Washington, D.C., for taking time off to have her baby.

Due to complications, Holmes' doctor ordered her to go on bed rest nearly three months before her due date. Despite filling out the necessary paperwork, and despite D.C. having a law protecting pregnant workers on the job, Holmes found an email on her phone terminating her position.


Kashawna Holmes with her son. Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

"I was completely devastated, in shock. I felt that was supposed to be the happiest time, I was so excited about having my son,” she told the Washington Post. Instead, she had to seek help from a nonprofit and spend time and money on a lawsuit fighting for her rights.

Her employers stated that her one-year appointment to the position had ended, but Holmes knew there was funding for her position for the following year because she had prepared the audit herself.

Caring for someone else's well-being shouldn't come at the cost of your own. But for caregivers, it often does.

The fear of being fired is the unfortunate reality for millions of people who provide direct and ongoing care for their children or other family members.

Caregivers, the majority of whom are women, spend significant time tending to the needs of those who rely on them, like small children, disabled family members, or senior citizens who require home care.

Caring for someone else's well-being shouldn't come at the cost of your own. But for caregivers, it often does.

Holmes is one of the thousands of women every year who lose their jobs on maternity leave or to other caregiver duties.

A law protecting caregivers would have recognized the urgency and specific needs of Holmes' situation, and protected her. While some companies like Holmes' try to find ways around these laws, having them on the books gives unlawfully terminated employees the legal ability to fight back.

Thankfully, caregivers in New York City will soon get this protection.


A bill protecting caregivers is awaiting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

Lawmakers in New York City have recognized that when workers have more flexibility for their families, everyone benefits.

For example, instead of having to risk her job, a single mother could take necessary time off to care for her child — and herself — and be protected by the law. Or a man who works full time but lives with his elderly father who needs regular doctor visits and home care can take time off without being penalized to take his father to the doctor.

Also, as more and more baby boomers age and enter retirement, the amount of senior citizens requiring home care will grow rapidly.

The number of senior citizens in New York City is expected to increase by 35% in the next 20 years. Photo from iStock.

A new law passed on Dec. 16, 2015, will make caregivers a protected class in New York City.

New York City has already made efforts to protect the job rights of individuals regardless of race, sexual orientation, and age, and now caregivers can enjoy that same legal protection.

The law defines a caregiver as "a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or a care recipient." It's good news, especially for women who do a disproportionate amount of caregiving (an estimated 66%). In fact, the bill is largely being touted as a victory for the progress of women.

This new law protects people's rights to spend time caring for their loved ones without having to worry about losing their jobs. The bill aims to make New York City a better place for women and for anyone dedicating their time to the well-being of someone else.

This is a positive step toward solving an important problem, especially for New York City.

In fact, the bill's opening paragraph says it best:

"In the city of New York, with its great cosmopolitan population, there is no greater danger to the health,morals, safety and welfare of the city and its inhabitants than the existence of groups prejudiced against oneanother and antagonistic to each other because of their actual or perceived differences."

Caregivers are New York City's mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. They shouldn't have to worry about losing their jobs while they are essentially doing a second job for free. Now, they don't have to. That's a good thing.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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