Class action accuses UPS of sexism, violation of equal pay law
By Jonny Lupsha, News Editor
Three women have filed a class action lawsuit against UPS for discrimination based on sex. They allege that the company assigns women to suboptimal jobs with little chance of advancement. Women’s rights have seen triumphs and setbacks.
A class action lawsuit has been filed by three women who work at a UPS hub in California, claiming the shipping company engages in systemic gender discrimination. They say UPS places women in dead-end jobs, resulting in lower wages and fewer opportunities for advancement than their male counterparts. Discrimination is worse for older women, who are scrutinized more than younger men, according to the complaint.
Legally guaranteed equal rights for women often require legislation, but not without failures. In his video series Faculty of Law for All: Constitutional LawProfessor Eric Berger, professor of law and associate dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Nebraska, detailed some notable incidents.
Beyond Hoyt v. Florida
In 1920, Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. The Nineteenth Amendment states, “The right to vote of citizens of the United States shall not be denied or restricted by the United States or any state on the basis of sex. “
“The franchise was an important victory for the women’s rights movement, but by no means has it provided women with true equality overnight, either in American culture or in court,” said Professor Berger. “Again in 1961, in Hoyt v. Florida, the court upheld a Florida law that only included women on jury rolls if they wanted to be included with the court clerk.
“More than 40 years after women were granted the right to vote, the court explained that ‘women are still considered the center of the home and family life.’
Technically, the ruling did not violate the Nineteenth Amendment because, while voting and jury duty are considered civic duties, they are two separate acts.
So close and yet so far
Again, the Nineteenth Amendment states that no US citizen can infringe the right to vote based on gender, but voting is all it covers. Likewise, in 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed, outlawing “gender pay discrimination” between men and women doing the same work in “the same institution”. With pay discrimination and voting rights discrimination covered, what about other rights?
“In the early 1970s, both houses of Congress proposed an equal rights amendment that would have added explicit protection against discrimination on the basis of sex,” said Professor Berger. “The wording said, ‘Equal rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on the basis of sex. “
According to Professor Berger, Article V of the Constitution states that a proposed constitutional amendment must be ratified by three-quarters of the states to take effect. A few months after the proposal, in 1972, about half of the requested states had ratified it. Then things slowed down and Congress extended the deadline to the end of June 1982. By that time, 35 of 38 states had ratified the Equal Rights Amendment.
“Women have made great strides, but they still lag behind men in many important respects, such as corporate leadership positions, political positions and compensation,” he said. “And many commentators lament the country’s ultimate failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment as a cause and symbol of women’s inability to achieve true equality in our society.”
However, Professor Berger noted, despite the slow pace of changes in laws affecting women’s rights, the movement has continued to progress.
Edited by Angela Shoemaker, The Great Courses Daily