Salomon Sex Discrimination Settlement: Arbitration Panel Awards Employee for First Time
A three-person arbitration panel last Thursday ordered securities firm Salomon Smith Barney to pay roughly $3.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a female employee, as part of a 1997 settlement in a sex-discrimination lawsuit. Initiated in 1996 by three women working in Garden City, New York for then-Smith Barney, the lawsuit quickly ballooned into a class-action case, with almost 2,000 female employees charging a sexually hostile work environment company-wide. While 95 percent of the women have accepted settlement offers from the company, 91 cases remain pending. Tameron Keyes, the second employee to have rejected private settlement offers and opt for arbitration, is the first to receive an award.
Arbitration documents reveal that in the early 1990s, male coworkers at Keyes’ Los Angeles office created “a work place permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insults,” which included playing porn videos, having phone sex on speakerphone, and hiring strippers to perform during work hours, according to the Associated Press.
A 2001 survey released by the non-profit group Catalyst indicated that one-third of women working in the seven top Wall Street securities firms reported a hostile work environment, where they faced unwanted sexual attention, crude remarks, or unequal treatment. Besides Salomon, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter have also faced sex-discrimination complaints.
In related news, Ford Motor Co. yesterday settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, involving a female plant employee who “was subjected to unwelcome sexual talk, innuendoes, jokes, touching, staring, whistling and intimidation,” according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint, reported by the Los Angeles Times. While the sum of the settlement has not been disclosed, Ford has already agreed to provide sexual harassment training to managers. The settlement awaits approval from a federal judge.
Media Resources: Bloomberg.com 12/14/02; Associated Press 12/17/02, 12/27/02; LA Times 12/27/02; Dow Jones 12/16/02
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. . . .