The Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan Fair Pay Act, or HB4885, was sponsored by Delegate Fleischauer in the 2020 session. The bill would have allowed employees to discuss their wages with each other and would have forbidden employer policies penalizing employees for discussing their pay. It is named to honor two of the three women from Hidden Figures, both with West Virginia ties, and both of whom suffered from wage discrimination throughout their lives. Allowing employees to discuss wages is a key component in obtaining equal pay for equal work - if employees are forbidden from discussing wages, they might never know they'd been underpaid for years, which is what happened to the woman in the famous Lily Ledbetter case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The personal losses caused by such policies can be huge, in terms of an employee's self-worth, family income, retirement, and social security. Delegate Fleischauer has sponsored different versions of this bill for several years, attempting to craft a version that would win passage, and not once has the Republican leadership allowed a vote on it. The bill would apply to any person in a protected class, not just women.
Research indicates that strangulation is one of the most terrorizing and lethal forms of domestic violence- oxygen can be cut off to the brain with a grip equivalent to a handshake. However, it has been difficult to charge strangulation as a felony, because it does not always cause noticeable damage. Delegate Fleischauer was a sponsor on HB 4362, passed in 2016, which established a new felony offense for restricting another person’s air intake or blood flow by application of pressure on the neck or throat causing substantial physical pain or impaired physical condition, without the person’s consent.
Delegate Fleischauer was among the sponsors for HB 4284, passed in 2014, which includes remedies and enforcement procedures if women believe they were discriminated against by not being offered appropriate accommodations at work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Employers in West Virginia must now offer reasonable accommodation to pregnant employees to enable them to continue working.
For years, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored legislation to close an insurance loophole that allowed the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) and some private insurers to avoid paying for maternity care and contraception for dependents (HB 2185). Passage of the Senate version, SB 22 in 2013, closed half the loophole, so now maternity care for dependents must be covered, just like other medically necessary healthcare. However, there was still an exception that allowed insurance companies to avoid paying for contraception for minor dependents. Delegate Fleischauer will keep working to end this discriminatory practice until the problem is fixed.
Passed in 2014, and sponsored by Delegate Fleischauer, HB 4196 requires local Workforce Force Investment Boards to provide information to job seekers about compensation for jobs and careers that offer high earning potential including jobs that are traditionally dominated by men or women. It also requires women and men to be encouraged to apply for such jobs, and includes a requirement that job applicants be provided information regarding the long-term consequences, including lower social security benefits or pensions, of choosing jobs that offer lower earnings potential and are traditionally dominated by women or men.
Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 4236 in 2014, which passed following several years of negotiations with stake-holders. The bill sets up a statewide system to expedite forensic examinations of sexual assault victims. Some women had to travel to other counties (almost always at night) and wait many, many hours before being provided with a proper examination to collect evidence of a rape. The mechanisms in the bill are intended to ensure that health care providers are properly trained and on staff in all regions of the state. Although it was vetoed by the Governor because of a technical flaw, the Governor re-introduced a corrected version, which passed as HB 108 during the first special session immediately following the regular session in 2014.
In 2012, West Virginia became one of the last states to adopt a statute outlawing human trafficking. Delegate Fleischauer was one of the sponsors of HB 4053. In 2013, she was the lead sponsor of a bill adding additional protections to our human trafficking law (HB 2814). Passage of both the 2012 and 2013 legislation resulted in the State of West Virginia jumping ahead in comparative ratings of state human trafficking legislation. The 2013 bill provides victims with three new forms of assistance: 1) eligibility for assistance under the crime victims compensation act, 2) the ability to seek damages from traffickers, and 3) expungement of criminal convictions (such as prostitution).
In 2015, Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 2161, which passed both Houses, but was vetoed by the Governor on technical grounds. This bill, which adopts the Uniform Act on Prevention and Remedies for Human Trafficking, includes several important reforms; among other things, it is intended to provide services for victims to aid their transition into normal society. After again clearing both houses of the legislature in the 2016 session, after some changes, a new bill, HB 2318, was finally signed into law in the June 2017 special session.
Following the passage of the 2017 bill, Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, changed West Virginia's rating on their annual report card from a D to a B, the greatest improvement of any state.
Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of the landmark Domestic Violence Treatment and Prevention Act of 1998, which set up new requirements for continuing education for the many professionals dealing with domestic violence cases. HB 2817 provided new authority for Judges issuing protective orders to require safety plans for victims and battering counseling for perpetrators. Delegate Fleischauer also spearheaded successful efforts over many years to dramatically increase funding for shelters and legal services for domestic violence victims.
The Equal Pay for Equal Work for State Employees Act, drafted by Delegate Fleischauer (HB 2211) and passed as SB 31 in 1998 established the Equal Pay Commission. The Commission was assigned the task of studying and making recommendations to remedy pay inequities in state employment, in particular reviewing the wage rates for occupational classifications dominated by one sex or the other. Additionally, the Commission makes recommendations regarding providing funding in the Budget to remedy pay inequities. Delegate Fleischauer served as House Co-Chair of the Commission until 2005. Under her leadership, the Commission hired consultants who found significant disparities and made recommendations on needed changes. Funding has been placed in the Budget nearly every year since 2002 to address the disparities. As a result, state employees, 80 percent of whom are women in undervalued job classifications, have received over five million dollars in permanent raises. Delegate Fleischauer continues to serve on the Commission and continues to work toward achieving pay equity for state employees.