Victories by Issue | Equal Rights Advocates
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Our Victories

ERA Victories by Issue

Equal Opportunities in Male-Dominated Fields

  • In 2016, in Aviles v. BAE Systems, ERA obtains final court approval of a class settlement in a sex discrimination suit brought on behalf of women employed by BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair who alleged that they were subjected to gender discrimination in assignments and promotions and a sexually hostile work environment. The settlement marks the first Title VII gender discrimination class action to be settled and approved in the Norfolk division of the Eastern District of Virginia, provides more than $3 million in back pay to the class, and requires BAE Systems to make significant changes in its policies and procedures to combat discrimination and harassment.

  • In 2010, in Maher v. County of Fresno, ERA settles suit on behalf of female fire recruit terminated from the fire academy based on her sex. Maher, a professional athlete who was the only female fire recruit in the academy, was subjected to discriminatory comments and forced to meet higher standards than male recruits. The settlement follows a $2.47 million dollar jury verdict in her favor.

  • In 2008, following years of non-litigation advocacy through its Tradeswomen Legal Advocacy Project, ERA settles Charles v. DOE Electrical Contractor, a case on behalf of six journey-women electricians alleging that they were laid off from a work project based on gender. In addition to a monetary settlement, the company agreed to train its managers to address issues of gender discrimination and sex harassment. ERA’s co-counsel is Law Office of Judith Kurtz (former ERA attorney) and the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic of Golden Gate University School of Law.
  • In 1989, in United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls, ERA joins several other public interest law organizations in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges “fetal protection” policies used by employers nationwide to exclude fertile women from high-paying industrial jobs traditionally dominated by men. In March 1991, the Court hands down a ruling forbidding sex-specific fetal-protection policies.
  • In 1987, ERA settles a landmark case on behalf of women firefighters, Davis et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, after a five-year challenge against the discriminatory hiring policies of the San Francisco Fire Department. The City agrees to a Consent Decree that included hiring and promotional goals for women and minorities over the next seven years. The decree is one of the first to have specific goals for women of color.
  • In 1985, in Colombano v. City and County of San Francisco, ERA and its co-counsel, Kathleen Purcell, file a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco and several individual police officers on behalf of Louette Colombano, a nine-year veteran of the police force who was subjected to severe, life-threatening harassment. On the eve of the trial, counsels negotiate a settlement worth approximately $800,000.
  • In 1981, in Bernardi v. Yeutter, ERA resolves a class-action lawsuit alleging employment discrimination against the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Forest Service with a Consent Decree that provides for goals and timetables and an affirmative action fund in the amount of $1.5 million.
  • In 1979, in Advocates for Women v. Usery, ERA and its co-counsel negotiate a landmark Consent Decree in a suit filed to require the Secretary of Labor to establish goals and timetables for the hiring of women by federal contractors.
  • In 1977, in Mueller v. Greyhound Lines West, ERA settles a case that challenges Greyhound’s policy of overtly excluding experienced women applicants from bus driver positions through the use of minimum height and weight requirements. The settlement agreement includes back pay for the plaintiff class, establishment of goals and timetables for women in bus driving positions, and elimination of the height and weight requirements.

Wage Justice, Equal Pay and Promotion

  • In 2015, ERA is the lead organizational sponsor of the California Fair Pay Act, which becomes the strongest equal pay law in the country when it is signed by Governor Brown on October 6, 2015 and takes effect on January 1, 2016. The Act strengthens existing equal pay protections by prohibiting employers from paying employees of the opposite sex different amounts when they perform “substantially similar” work and prohibiting discrimination against workers who ask about or discuss pay. 

  • In 2015, in Lucy Marsh v. Denver University, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issues a finding of reasonable cause in the gender discrimination and equal pay charge filed by ERA and co-counsel Hustchin Black & Cook on behalf of Professor Lucy Marsh and other female faculty members of Denver University’s Sturm College of Law in July 2013. The EEOC concludes that there has been a continuing pattern or practice of compensating women law professors less than men since as early as 1973.

  • In 2008, ERA settles Medina v. Station Casinos, et al., a wage and hour and sexual harassment class action for millions on behalf of casino workers employed at Thunder Valley Casino. The case challenged the casino’s practice of not paying employees for time worked and egregious sexual harassment.
  • In 2002, in Brown v. Sacramento Regional Transit District, ERA and its co-counsel, The Impact Fund, successfully settle a class action gender discrimination lawsuit against Sacramento Regional Transit District. The case charged that the employer engaged in subjective training and selection practices that resulted in the hiring, professional development, and promotion of less qualified men into desirable and higher paying positions to the exclusion of equally qualified women.
  • In 2001, ERA and its co-counsel file Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, a class action sex discrimination lawsuit against retail giant Wal-Mart Stores. The lawsuit alleges that female employees of Wal-Mart are denied advancement and training opportunities, paid less than men for the same or comparable work, steered to lower wage departments, and retaliated against when they attempt to address the sex discrimination.
  • In 2000, ERA and the Asian Law Caucus reach settlement in Kamsan Mao v. Top Line Electronics and Lite-On, the first-ever lawsuit to challenge the illegal homework practices in the electronics assembly industry. Press coverage serves the dual purpose of warning companies to cease such illegal practices and informs immigrant workers of their rights.
  • In 1999, in Does 1-8 v. ASC Fashion, US Boys, et al., ERA settles a case against garment manufacturers on behalf of Thai and Latino workers. The manufacturers agree to monitor their independent contractors to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws, as well as workplace safety regulations.
  • In 1991, in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, A. Castrejon v. Tortilleria La Mejor, ERA, along with the Asian Law Caucus and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), win a landmark federal district court case on behalf of Alicia Castrejon, an undocumented worker whose pregnancy discrimination lawsuit raised the issue of undocumented workers’ rights under federal anti-discrimination law. The court’s ruling results in thousands of undocumented immigrant workers receiving legal protection against discrimination.
  • In 1989, in Bell v. Kemp, ERA files a major pay equity case against the federal government challenging the policy of setting employee salaries based upon earnings in previous jobs, a practice that institutionalizes sex- and race-based wage discrimination.
  • In 1988, in Henning et al. v. Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), ERA and several public interest law firms and unions work with the Coalition for a Fair Minimum Wage, to challenge the subminimum wage for tipped employees, two-thirds of whom are women. The California Supreme Court hands down a ruling declaring the subminimum wage illegal.
  • In 1986, in Sai Chen Ha et al. v. T&W Fashions and Fritzi Manufacturing Corporation, ERA, the Asian Law Caucus, and the Employment Law Center successfully settle a case on behalf of 13 garment workers who seek to recover unpaid wages, overtime compensation, and compensatory damages from an apparel manufacturer and its contractor.
  • In 1984, in Kouba v. Allstate Insurance Company, ERA successfully settles a landmark pay equity case against Allstate Insurance Company for its practice of setting salaries based on previous job earnings. Under the terms of the settlement, Allstate agrees to establish a fund of $5 million to recompense over 3,400 class members nationwide for back wages.
  • In 1978, in Caria v. Saks Fifth Avenue, ERA brings a class-action suit against Saks Fifth Avenue alleging sex discrimination and violations of the Equal Pay Act. ERA negotiates a significant settlement agreement that establishes both a back pay fund of $360,000 and a salary readjustment fund, and secures a policy change in hiring and promotion procedures.

Sexual Harassment and Worker Safety

  • In 2015, in Bojorquez v. ABM, ERA reaches a settlement on behalf of Maria Bojorquez in her sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation case against ABM Industries, Incorporated. Under the settlement agreement, ABM agrees to implement a thorough process of outside review for investigations involving allegations of rape or attempted rape in the workplace, benefitting thousands of current and future janitorial workers.
  • In 2012, in Bojorquez v. ABM, ERA and co-counsel achieve a $812,000 jury verdict on behalf of an immigrant woman who was subjected to sexual harassment, assault, and retaliation while she worked as a janitor in a San Francisco building. ERA launches Clinica La Voz soon thereafter to address the variety of legal and emotional needs of workers who have been subjected to workplace harassment.
  • In 2009, in Medina v. Station Casinos, Placer County Superior Court issues final approval of settlement of case brought by ERA to challenge sexual harassment and wage and hour violations at Thunder Valley Casino. The case was settled on behalf of a sexual harassment and wage and hour class for multi-million dollar amounts and significant injunctive relief.
  • In 2006, ERA resolves Donaldson v. Lori’s Diner, a suit on behalf of current and former female wait staff at Lori’s Diner, a San Francisco restaurant chain. The suit alleged that the women were subjected to egregious sexual and racial harassment while employees of the restaurant chain.
  • In 2000, ERA successfully settles McIntyre and Hibbitts v. Main Street and Main Street Incorporated d/b/a TGIFridays, a sexual harassment case on behalf of two African-American female servers. The restaurant industry is one of the targeted industries in ERA’s litigation strategy.
  • In 1993, ERA files Gonzalez v. Rubber Stampede, a lawsuit on behalf of Maria Theresa Gonzalez, challenging her employer’s failure to provide workers with adequate ventilation and its failure to monitor their exposure to toxic fumes. The case also challenged the employer’s termination of Gonzalez after she reported the conditions to Cal OSHA after she was rushed to the hospital with acute chemical fumes exposure. ERA’s case on behalf of Ms. Gonzalez is the first of its kind in Northern California to use the state’s anti-toxics initiative (Prop. 65) to challenge workplace conditions.
  • In 1982, ERA successfully settles Piazza v. BART, a sexual harassment case on behalf of a BART mechanic who was subjected to life-threatening harassment and differential treatment by co-workers and supervisors.
  • In 1980, in Miller v. Bank of America, ERA represents an African American woman in her complaint of sex and race discrimination by her employer. This landmark lawsuit extends existing legal precedent to include sexual harassment cases. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holds the employer liable for injury to an employee inflicted by a supervisor.

Fair Treatment for Working Families

  • In 2007, ERA launched an effort to protect family caregivers from discrimination at work in California, introducing a series of related bills in the California legislature over the next several years. That same year, the U.S. EEOC issued Enforcement Guidance to stop the Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers With Caregiving Responsibilities.
  • In 2002, ERA played a pivotal role in passage of California’s Paid Family Leave Act, making California the first state in the country to provide workers with partial wage replacement for up to six weeks per year to care for a family member or bond with a new child. ERA joined other California non-profits in the Paid Family Leave Collaborative to educate the public about this important law.
  • In 2000, ERA settles Lundy v. University of California, Santa Cruz, a case on behalf a female UCSC faculty member who was fired after she took parental leave to adopt and care for her first child. Lundy obtains back pay and the benefits through the settlement.
  • In 1999, ERA settles Pallas v. AT&T, a pregnancy discrimination case concerning denial of early retirement due to maternity leave. The case covers a class of nearly 10,000 women and the settlement is valued in excess of $25 million dollars. The case settled after a victory at the Ninth Circuit left intact after a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • In 1999 and 1992, ERA’s efforts to obtain modest workplace accommodations for pregnant workers in California led to amendments of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
  • In 1991, ERA plays a key role in passage and interpretation of the California Family Rights Act of 1991, which provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job protected leave to care for one’s own serious health condition or that of a family member or to bond with a new child. Passage of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act follows in 1993.
  • In 1990, ERA successfully settled Miller v. Children’s Hospital, a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, challenging employer policies that exclude pregnant employees from certain jobs rather than accommodating them.
  • In 1987, the United States Supreme agrees with the reasoning set forth in an amicus brief filed by ERA and upholds a California law that requires employers with five or more employees to grant unpaid disability leaves of up to four months to women disabled by pregnancy or childbirth. (California Federal Savings & Loan v. Department of Fair Employment and Housing)
  • In 1974, ERA challenged the discriminatory treatment of pregnant workers in early cases before the United States Supreme Court, fighting California’s denial of disability insurance coverage to women disabled by pregnancy in Geduldig v. Aiello and a school district’s force maternity leave policy in Berg v. Richmond Unified School District. Victory follows closely behind these cases when Congress passes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

Gender Equity in Education

  • In 2008, in Blanc Brodie v. West Sonoma County Union High School, ERA represented a high school woman whose school failed to protect from egregious sexual harassment and discriminatory treatment by her high school wrestling coach and fellow team members. The case’s successful settlement resulted in the development of a girls’ wrestling program and other measures to prevent discrimination and harassment.
  • In 1994 and 1976, ERA’s litigation efforts clarified that Title IX prohibits sexual harassment (Alexander v. Yale University (1976) and that schools will also be liable for failing to stop peer sexual harassment (Doe v. Petaluma City School District (1994)).
  • In 1993, ERA filed the first ever Title IX “hostile environment” class complaint with the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights on behalf of faculty and students of UC Santa Cruz to challenge sexual harassment and assault on campus.
  • ERA has challenged barriers to girls and women in sports for four decades. As early as 1975, ERA was fighting stereotyping that kept girls out of soccer leagues (Love v. California Youth Soccer Association). More recently, ERA has taken on inequities in college sports, achieving a landmark settlement on behalf of a class of female athletes in Brust v. Regents of the University of California and setting Title IX precedent with wins at trial and before the Ninth Circuit on behalf of women wrestlers in Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California.
  • ERA has long advocated for women educators seeking equal treatment, opportunity for promotion, and pay. ERA’s Higher Education Legal Advocacy Project tackled the most pressing inequity issues faced by women in academia through litigation, higher education roundtables, and fighting legislative efforts to end affirmative action in hiring by public entities.