Thursday AM February 26th, 2009

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University of Houston Women's Studies Director Elizabeth Gregory says the table talk event is an opportunity for women to discuss women's issues with Houston thought leaders.

"And instead of having one speaker at the head, we have 50 women of note from diverse fields and backgrounds — one seated at each table.ξ And when you turn in your reply card you say who you want to have lunch with, and basically it's 50 conversations, so it's a lot of fun."

Gregory says influential Houston women will host thoughtful conversations with stories of personal experiences and life lessons learned.

"The conversationalists are from all over the place.ξ The DA is one of our honorees this year, Pat Lykos.ξ Lawyers, doctors, Alzheimer's researcher Dr. Rachelle Doody is one of our conversationalists this year."

One issue being discussed is equal pay.ξ President Barack Obama recently signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, nullifying a Bush-era Supreme Court decision and making it easier for workers to sue for discrimination by allowing more time to do so.

"The bill that he signed really didn't advance things so much as put us back where we were before.ξ So there is another paycheck fairness bill in queue, and there are other bills under consideration, like paid sick leave and funding the FMLA, that would further expand that range of concerns for women."

The FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act.ξ Gregory says Texas is one of 17 states that will pay workers and assist employers to cut hours instead of jobs by paying pro-rated unemployment benefits.ξ

"So that if you cut back 20 per cent of your work, you could get that in unemployment rather than cutting back 20 per cent of your work force.ξ That way the employer benefits because they don't have to go looking for workers and retrain when the upturn comes back.ξ You don't have people thrown out of work, defaulting on their mortgages."

The Table Talk event is set for March 3rd at the Hilton Americas.ξ

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.


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