Equal Rights Advocates
Revision as of 12:23, 25 May 2009 by Keiko
- ERA works to eradicate illegal discriminatory practices that deny women advancement opportunities, equal compensation, and access to certain occupations.
- ERA demands that employers provide women with a work environment that is free of sexual harassment and in compliance with health and safety laws.
- ERA enforces family and medical leave and pregnancy protection laws, and is active in the effort to establish paid family and medical leave.
Since 1974, Equal Rights Advocates’ lawyers have used litigation to improve workplace and educational conditions for women and girls.
- San Francisco Firefighters: Until 1978, the city of San Francisco explicitly barred women from becoming firefighters. In fact, San Francisco was the only major city in the country without even one female firefighter. In 1984, ERA and its co-counsel sued the San Francisco Fire Department for discrimination in its hiring and promotion policies. The first woman entered the department in 1987, and in 1996, the first two female captains were appointed. Today approximately 12% of the firefighters are women, making it a department with one of the highest percentages of women firefighters in the nation.
- Pallas v. Pacific Bell: After ten years of litigation and three and a half years of settlement negotiations, ERA and cooperating counsel finally settled Pallas v. Pacific Bell. ERA represented Lana Pallas in a pregnancy discrimination case against her employer, Pacific Bell, which had refused to grant her early retirement benefits. Ms. Pallas took maternity leave in 1972, but did not get service credit for the time she took off for pregnancy-related disability. At that time, employees who were disabled for any reason other than pregnancy DID get service credit for their time off. Without the service credit for her time on pregnancy disability, Ms. Pallas was a few days short of the service time required for early retirement eligibility. While it is impossible to predict the exact value of the settlement on behalf of over 10,000 women employees, it is estimated that its value will be well in excess of $25 million.
- Allstate Insurance: In the early 1970s, after Lola Kouba took a job with Allstate Insurance Company, she discovered that she was earning less than men with the same job. In fact, Allstate based employees’ salaries on prior income—since women traditionally earned less, Allstate’s women workers started a step down the wage ladder. As the named plaintiff in Kouba vs. Allstate Insurance Company, Lola was catapulted into the struggle for women’s equality. ERA helped her win a $5 million settlement for 3,400 women nationwide. Today, Lola is still a pioneer as the first woman claims director for a major California insurance company.