Voice of America, a government sponsored overseas radio broadcasting program, faces sex discrimination claims in excess of $500 million dollars. Twelve years ago, a federal judge ruled that VOA discriminated against women in its hiring practices. Now, a special master, law professor Stephen A. Saltzburg, is in the process of deciding how much, if any, each of the 1,100 women bringing claims against VOA will be awarded. So far, he has awarded eight women a total of $4.7 million and denied claims to two others. On top of the monetary awards, the government must set up retirement accounts for all the women who have successful claims. The government has failed twice in getting a Federal Appeals Court to overturn the case and is now considering appealing directly to the Supreme Court.
The discrimination allegedly occurred between 1974 and 1984. It included hiring discrimination in various fields within VOA, such as writer/editor, foreign language broadcasters, foreign information or production specialists, and radio broadcast or electric technicians. One woman, Lynn Goldman Barrett, sent in an application along with her husband; they had essentially the same experience, having co-owned Mirasound Studios Inc. He was given a job as a recording technician immediately and she was not, even though there were plenty of job openings at VOA. At the first hearing, the government claimed it never received her application, even though it was sent in the same package as her husband's. Then she reapplied in 1982 and the government claimed she was not qualified. She protested and then was told she would need to fill out an additional form, which did not exist. Saltzburg wrote in his opinion, awarding her $562,481, "Women and men were treated differently. There were openings for 'warm bodies' as long as those bodies were male."
Media Resources: The Washington Post - December 19, 1996
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .