Highlights from ERA's 50 Years

Timeline: Our History


Visit these pages for a fuller list of our legal achievements over the years:

Watch a short video about ERA’s Origin Story


ERA Foundersin the 1970s

  • Equal Rights Advocates incorporated as a nonprofit with Nancy Davis as Executive Director.
  • ERA co-founder Wendy Williams argues before the U.S. Supreme Court that California cannot deny disability insurance coverage to women disabled by pregnancy (Geduldig v. Aiello). While ERA lost that battle, victory came 4 years later, when Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.


  • For nine-year old Amy Love, ERA puts an end to “no girls” rule at county sport championships. (Love v. CA Youth Soccer Association)


  • ERA launches the first national Lesbian Rights Project to defend lesbian workers and families. The project later incorporates as the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

ERA Foundersin the 1970s


  • ERA successfully challenges Greyhound’s policy of excluding qualified women bus drivers through minimum height and weight requirements, resulting in landmark settlement eliminating sexist criteria. (Mueller v. Greyhound Lines West)


  • ERA challenges school’s forced maternity leave policy before U.S. Supreme Court. (Berg v. Richmond Unified School District)


  • ERA negotiates landmark consent decree requiring the Secretary of Labor to establish goals and timetables for hiring women federal contractors. (Advocates for Women v. Usery)


Watch a short video about ERA’s work in the 1980s-1990s


  • ERA files brief supporting precedent-setting decision confirming that Title IX bars sexual harassment of students. (Alexander v. Yale)
  • ERA sets precedent confirming employer liability for supervisor sexual assault of bank employee. (Miller v. Bank of America)


  • ERA brings class-action sex discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (Bernardi v. Yeutter), resulting in a consent decree with inclusive hiring goals and the creation of a $1.5 million affirmative action fund.


  • ERA takes on sexual harassment and misconduct in the San Francisco police department with client Louette Colombano (now on ERA’s Board of Directors), resulting in significant changes to the SFPD policies and procedures. (Colombano v. City of San Francisco)


  • ERA and partners prevail in suit challenging discriminatory hiring policies of the San Francisco Fire Department with landmark settlement ensuring hiring and promotional goals for women and people of color. (Davis v. City of San Francisco)


  • ERA and partners abolish subminimum wage for California tipped workers. (Henning v. Industrial Welfare Commission)


  • ERA challenges under federal law employer reliance on prior salary to set new hire pay. (Bell v. Kemp)


Watch a short video about ERA’s work in the 1980s-1990s


  • ERA and partners achieve landmark win confirming Title VII legal protections to undocumented pregnant workers, a ruling benefitting hundreds of thousands across the state. (EEOC & Castrejon v. Tortilleria La Mejor)
  • ERA and partners successfully challenge in U.S. Supreme Court “fetal protection” policies used to exclude women from certain jobs. (United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls)

  • ERA plays a key role in passage of the California Family Rights Act, ensuring employees 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave (and setting the stage for similar federal reform in 1993).


  • ERA co-counsels on precedent-setting case confirming school liability for peer sexual harassment under Title IX. (Doe v. Petaluma School District)


  • ERA ends 13-year legal challenge of employer practice diminishing retirement benefits to workers who took maternity leave with $25 million settlement for 10,000 workers. (Pallas v. Pacific Bell)
  • ERA and partners secure wage and hour, as well as safety protections, for immigrant garment workers. (Does 1-8 v. ASC Fashion, US Boys, et al)


Watch a short video about ERA’s work from 2000-2014


  • ERA ensures parental leave for adoptive parents. (Lundy v. U.C. Santa Cruz)
  • ERA fights sexual harassment at TGI Fridays. (McIntyre & Hibbitts v. TGI Fridays)
  • ERA bans unpaid “homework” in electronics industry. (Kamsan Mao v. Top Line Electronics and Lite-On)


  • In largest workplace sex discrimination class action in history, ERA and partners challenge sex discrimination in pay and promotion by the nation’s largest employer. While the case did not proceed as a class action, the team achieved landmark practice changes and relief for workers across the nation. (Dukes v. Wal-Mart)


  • ERA and Impact Fund reach landmark settlement ensuring equitable hiring and promotion practices in county transit system. (Brown v. Sacramento Transit)


  • ERA fights racial and sexual harassment at San Francisco restaurant chain. (Donaldson v. Lori’s Diner)


  • ERA challenges decades of non-compliance with Title IX federal law requiring schools to provide female students with equal opportunities to play sports in a case that won the addition of new women sports teams and significant monetary investment in emerging women’s clubs teams.


  • ERA brings groundbreaking class action to end sexual harassment and assault at gaming casino, resulting in multi-million dollar settlement and first-of-its-kind tribal arbitration process. (Medina v. Thunder Valley Casino)


Watch a short video about ERA’s work from 2015-2020



  • ERA obtains justice (and $2.5 million trial win) for top notch fire academy recruit dismissed based on gender and motherhood status. (Maher v. County of Fresno)


  • ERA pushes CA SB 299 to ensure uninterrupted healthcare for pregnant workers.


  • ERA bring suit to challenge the removal of female athletes from a collegiate wrestling team, resulting in a trial win and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal precedent confirming school liability for decision to provide fewer sports opportunities to female student athletes.  (Mansourian v. UC Regents)


  • On the 50th anniversary of the federal Equal Pay Act, ERA co-founds the Equal Pay Today campaign to help close gender, race, and LGBTQIA+ pay gaps with partners across the nation. The campaign has been the force behind 150 stronger fair pay laws in states since 2013.
  • ERA joins case defending Professor Lucy Marsh against pay discrimination, resulting in a $2.47 million settlement and college practices. (Marsh v. University of Denver Sturm School of Law)


  • ERA launches the Stronger California Women’s Economic Security Campaign with dozens of partners and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, resulting in 50 groundbreaking policy wins between 2015 and 2023 combatting poverty, expanding access to childcare, and ensuring fair pay, safety from violence and other workplace reforms, helping 30 million workers across the state, and setting the stage for similar reforms across the nation.
  • ERA passes the California Fair Pay Act as strongest fair pay law in the nation (which was later replicated in 42 other states).


  • After a 9-year legal battle, ERA wins suit on behalf of female janitor assaulted by a supervisor and retaliated against when she complained. The case was featured in “Rape on the Nightshift” documentary and launches the Ya Basta Coalition resulting in policy reforms helping 200,000 women janitors. (Bojorquez v. ABM Industries)


  • ERA wins landmark class action settlement ensuring fair pay and promotion for women workers in ship repair industry. (Aviles v. BAE Systems)
  • ERA works alongside field hockey players at UC Berkeley denied equal playing fields on campus, resulting in new state-of-the-art facilities.

  • ERA supports passage of bills raising the minimum wage and ensuring a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights.


  • ERA launches the Initiative to End Sexual Violence in Education to address Trump-era Title IX rollbacks and leads sexual harassment school policy reforms benefiting 30,000+ students (Oakland School District).

  • ERA passes one of nation’s first state laws prohibiting reliance on prior salaries to set hiring wages, now replicated in over a dozen states.


  • ERA-sponsors nation’s strongest package of anti-sexual harassment legislation passes in CA
  • ERA fights against sexual harassment in male-dominated fields and leads legal victory in Alaskan gold mine. (Hurst v. Sumitomo Pogo)


  • ERA serves as amici in Ninth Circuit case holding that the Equal Pay Act does not permit reliance on prior salary in setting hiring pay. (Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education)

  • ERA brings legal action for high school student forced from school after her sexual assault, which results in sizable settlement and school reforms benefitting thousands of students (Virginia M. v. Sacramento).
  • ERA legal action against a research institute addresses sexual harassment that pushes women from science programs.
  • ERA successfully pushes passage of SB 493, setting the nation’s gold standard of rights and protections to student survivors of sexual violence.


Watch a short video about ERA’s work so far in the 2020s


  • ERA brings suit challenging rollback of student sexual violence survivor rights by Trump Administration, resulting in high impact changes in school proceedings.


  • ERA passes the Silenced No More Act to prohibit employers from demanding silencing in exchange for settlement of workplace harassment or assault claims.
  • ERA passes legislation to protect garment workers from wage theft.


  • As COVID-19 racks the nation, ERA litigates three impact cases defending the rights of always essential service workers. Landmark wins ensure reasonable accommodations for pregnant airport security workers (Devore et al v. Covenant) and pregnant grocery workers (Borrego v. Raley’s) and defended janitorial workers against sexual harassment and retaliation, (Sanchez et al v. ABM)


  • ERA brings class action suit challenging pay discrimination harming dozens of female professors at Vassar College. (Graham et al v. Vassar College)
  • ERA-supported CA Supreme Court case decides colleges aren’t required to allow live cross-examination of survivors at student misconduct hearings, distancing CA from a Trump-era practice that singled out victims of gender-based violence.


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Posible que podamos proveer ayuda legal por gratis por los siguientes problemas en el trabajo o la escuela: discriminación basado en el género o por LGBTQI+, acoso sexual, asalto sexual, y discriminación basado en el embarazo o por ser padre/madre.


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