ERA Victories by Timeline
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.
Bojorquez v. ABM Industries, et al. ERA reaches a settlement on behalf of Maria Bojorquez in her sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation case against ABM Industries, Incorporated, following a $812,001 jury verdict in Maria’s favor in 2012. 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.
California Fair Pay Act 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.
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.
Bojorquez v. ABM Industries, et al. ERA achieves an $812,000 jury verdict on behalf of an immigrant woman janitor who was sexually assaulted by her supervisor and then retaliated against by her employer when she reported the abuse.
Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California ERA scores a trial win on behalf of women wrestlers challenging their school’s refusal to provide female athletes equal athletic opportunities in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The liability-phase trial win follows a precedent-setting decision in 2010 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that female students challenging an institutional decision to provide women few athletic opportunities need not provide the school with formal “notice” before filing a suit for damages. The Court distinguished Title IX athletics cases from Supreme Court precedent holding that such notice is required in Title IX sexual harassment cases (Gebser v. Lago Vista). ERA settles the case for $1.35 million shortly before the start of the damages phase trial.
ERA Obtains Passage of Bill Ensuring Continued Health Care Coverage for California Pregnant Workers ERA obtained passage of SB 299, an amendment to California’s Fair and Employment and Housing Act, which requires employers with five or more employees to continue health care coverage for pregnant workers on pregnancy disability leave.
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.
Brust v. Regents of the University of California ERA settles class action brought on behalf of female athletes seeking equal athletic opportunities at the University of California. During the course of the suit, the University announced that it would add a women’s varsity field hockey team at UC Davis. The parties settled the case with UC’s agreement to equalize athletic opportunities for women over the compliance period, establishment of a fund to develop women athletes, and payment of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Charles v. DOE Electrical Contractor Following years of advocacy through its Tradeswomen Legal Advocacy Project, ERA settles a case on behalf of six journey-women electricians who alleged that they were laid off because of their sex. ERA partnered with Judy Kurtz and the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic of Golden Gate University School of Law to obtain monetary damages and injunctive relief requiring the company to train its managers on issues of gender discrimination and sex-based harassment.
Maher v. County of Fresno A Fresno jury awards fire recruit Michelle Maher $2.46 million after finding she was terminated from the academy based on her sex. The case, brought by ERA and Siegel & Yee, later settles.
Medina v. Station Casinos, et al. ERA and co-counsel reach a multi-million dollar settlement of a wage and hour and sexual harassment class action lawsuit brought on behalf of casino workers at Thunder Valley Casino.
Donaldson v. Lori’s Diner ERA and co-counsel Sundeen, Salinas & Pyle resolve a suit brought on behalf of female wait staff at Lori’s Diner, a San Francisco restaurant chain, who alleged they were subjected to egregious sexual and racial harassment at work.
Brown v. Sacramento Regional Transit District ERA and its co-counsel, The Impact Fund, successfully settled 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.
Paid Family Leave Act ERA plays a pivotal role in passage of California’s Paid Family Leave Act in 2002, 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. Over the next decade, ERA joins other California non-profits in the Paid Family Leave Collaborative to educate the public about this important law.
Hulteen v. AT&T ERA and its co-counsel files Hulteen v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit alleging that AT&T’s employment benefit practices discriminate against pregnant women. Female employees of AT&T who took pregnancy leave before the 1979 Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), were forced to take “personal leave” for their pregnancy-related disability leave and were denied “service credit” for missed days of work, whereas employees who took temporary disability leave for a variety of other illnesses accumulated service credit for those work absences. Therefore as this class of women retire, they receive lower pension checks than they are entitled to and/or do not qualify for early retirement packages.
Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores ERA and co-counsel The Impact Fund, Cohen Milstein Sellers Toll, PLLC, and other firms bring and continue to litigate) a class action sex discrimination lawsuit against retail giant Wal-Mart Stores challenging its policies and practices of denying equal pay and promotion opportunities to its female workforce.
Kamsan Mao v. Top Line Electronics and Lite-On ERA and the Asian Law Caucus bring and settle the first-ever lawsuit to challenge illegal homework practices in the electronics assembly industry, bringing public attention to the need for companies to cease such illegal practices and educating immigrant workers about their rights.
McIntyre and Hibbitts v. Main Street and Main Street Incorporated d/b/a TGI Fridays As part of a strategy to conduct targeted litigation in the restaurant industry, ERA successfully settles a sexual harassment case on behalf of two African-American female servers.
Lundy v. University of California, Santa Cruz ERA settles 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, obtaining back pay and the benefits for the client.
Pallas v. Pacific Bell After 13 years of litigation, ERA and its co- counsel settle this pregnancy discrimination case concerning denial of early retirement benefits due to maternity leave. The case covers a class of nearly 10,000 women, and its settlement is valued in excess of $25 million. This is the same issue presented in Hulteen v. AT&T.
Does 1-8 v. ASC Fashion, US Boys, et al. In this case against garment manufacturers on behalf of Thai and Latino immigrant workers, ERA obtains settlement pursuant to which the manufacturers agree to monitor their independent contractors to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws and workplace safety regulations.
Doe v. Petaluma City School District ERA and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund successfully settle Doe v. Petaluma in the plaintiff’s favor for $250,000. We represented a junior high school student who was subjected to sexual harassment by fellow students over an eighteen-month period. During that time, her guidance counselor and the school district failed to take action to stop the harassment, a violation of Title IX. This case establishes legal precedent, as Doe is the nation’s first federal court case to recognize that peer (student-to-student) sexual harassment is actionable under Title IX. ERA continues to assist attorneys handling such cases.
Pallas v. Pacific Bell The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a 1991 ruling in ERA’s favor by denying PacBell’s request for review in this landmark lawsuit, the first to tackle the routine discrimination that many older working women face as they approach retirement age and find that they have not been granted “service credit” for the time taken off for pregnancy (while credit is given for other types of medical leave). As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, ERA enters the second phase of this complex litigation, in which its lawyers return to the trial court to determine the size of the class of women affected by PacBell’s discriminatory policies and the remedies available to them.
Gonzalez v. Rubber Stampede After she was rushed to the hospital for acute chemical fumes exposure at her workplace, ERA brought suit on behalf of Maria Theresa Gonzalez to challenge her employer’s failure to provide adequate ventilation and monitor workers’ exposure to toxic fumes, and its retaliation against her for reporting these hazards to OSHA, relying for the first time on California’s anti-toxic initiative (Proposition 65) in asserting these employment claims.
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.
Pallas v. Pacific Bell ERA agrees to represent Ms. Lana Pallas in a pregnancy discrimination case against her employer, Pacific Bell. Ms. Pallas is contesting PacBell’s refusal to grant her early retirement benefits because a pregnancy leave she was forced to take in 1972 left her three days short of the service time required for early retirement. Ms. Pallas’ lawsuit challenges Pacific Bell’s policy of denying “service credit” to employees who took personal leave during pregnancy prior to 1979. After the district court dismisses the lawsuit as “untimely,” ERA appeals the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and receives a favorable ruling. United States Supreme Court upholds the decision.
United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls ERA joins several 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 women from high-paying industrial jobs traditionally dominated by men. The Court’s landmark ruling finds the employer’s fetal-protection policy to be a form of sex discrimination forbidden under Title VII.
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.
Bell v. Kemp In this important pay equity case, ERA challenges the federal government’s policy of setting employee salaries based upon earnings in previous jobs, a practice which institutionalized and perpetuated sex- and race-based wage discrimination.
Henning et al. v. Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Working with the Coalition for a Fair Minimum Wage, ERA and several public interest law firms and unions 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.
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.
California Federal Savings & Loan v. Department of Fair Employment and Housing The United States Supreme agrees with the reasoning set forth in an amicus brief filed by ERA, upholding 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.
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 sought to recover unpaid wages, overtime compensation, and compensatory damages from an apparel manufacturer and its contractor.
Colombano v. City and County of San Francisco This lawsuit, which was brought 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, results in a settlement of approximately $800,000, reached on the eve of the trial.
Kouba v. Allstate Insurance Company After seven years of litigation, 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.
Piazza v. BART ERA successfully settles 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.
Bernardi v. Yeutter ERA resolves a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service through a consent decree providing for hiring goals and timetables and establishing a $1.5 million affirmative action fund.
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.
Caria v. Saks Fifth Avenue ERA settles a gender pay discrimination class action suit against Saks Fifth Avenue with an agreement establishing significant back pay and salary readjustment funds, as well as changes in hiring and promotion procedures.
Mueller v. Greyhound Lines West ERA successfully challenges Greyhound’s policy of excluding qualified women from bus driver positions through the use of minimum height and weight requirements, obtaining relief that eliminated those requirements and established female hiring goals.
Berg v. Richmond Unified School District ERA appears before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case challenging a school district’s forced maternity leave policy and the denial of accrued sick pay for pregnancy-related disabilities. Following remand by the Court, a settlement is reached.
Phelps v. Ramsay ERA successfully challenges Contra Costa County’s practice of incarcerating all women prisoners in the maximum-security jail, while assigning nearly all sentenced men to a minimum-security facility.
Alexander v. Yale University ERA successfully clarified that Title IX prohibits sexual harassment.
Love v. California Youth Soccer Association On behalf of Amy Love, a ten-year-old soccer star, ERA files a class-action lawsuit against the California Youth Soccer Association. The Association subsequently repeals its rule prohibiting the participation of girls in soccer league competition. One year later, Title IX goes into effect, prompting greatly increased participation by women and girls in athletic programs.
Geduldig v. Aiello ERA co-founder Wendy Williams argues before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiffs in a case that raises the issue of whether the state can deny disability insurance coverage to women disabled by pregnancy. The Supreme Court rules that denying disability benefits to pregnant women is not sex-based discrimination because not all women are pregnant. Victory comes four years later, when Congress passes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to address, in part, instances of pregnancy discrimination such as the above.