Bias Suit Settled; California Urges Sterilization

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The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Akron, Ohio, has settled a pay discrimination case filed by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2005. The company has agreed to pay $925,000 to over 800 women who were denied jobs at its plant in Danville, Va., in the 1990s and up to 60 of the women who were seeking jobs, the Associated Press reported Jan. 16.

Because Goodyear is a federal contractor, it is prohibited from discriminatory employment practices. Announcing the settlement, the Labor Department’s Charles E. James Sr. said the agreement “puts federal contractors on notice that the Labor Department is serious about eliminating systemic discrimination.”

Goodyear said they did not believe their practices were discriminatory, but settling the case was in the company’s best interests.

The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a separate pay discrimination case involving Goodyear, in which Lilly Ledbetter, an employee at an Alabama tire plant, alleged that she received lower wages than her male colleagues for 19 years. Ledbetter filed suit after she discovered the discrepancies. A decision in Ledbetter’s favor could help victims of discrimination recoup their lost wages.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • In 2006, 180 countries contributed a record total of $360 million to the United Nations Population Fund, which works to improve reproductive health issues and promotes gender equity worldwide, the agency announced Jan. 15. The Bush administration has withheld the U.S. contribution of $34 million since 2002 because it says the population fund supports China’s one-child policy and coercive abortions. In January, the 34 Million Friends Campaign, started by two U.S. women to raise the missing funds from private donations, announced that it had raised $3.4 million toward their goal.
  • Spain’s justice minister, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, canceled his speech at a Saudi university after authorities refused to permit four female journalists accompanying him to attend, the AP reported Jan. 15. The minister was invited to speak about terrorism at Riyadh’s Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, where women are banned from the all-male campus.
  • Most female professionals are choosing flexible work options over traditional schedules, according to a January study from the Simmons College School of Management in Boston. The study found that more than 90 percent of more than 400 women surveyed have used flexible work arrangements during their careers, while 88 percent have used flexible arrangements to remain employed full-time as they manage complex lives.
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced a competition to encourage novel approaches to eliminating domestic violence. The “No Private Matter!” competition is expected to draw entries from around the world and is designed to promote collaborative connections between policy-makers, investors and service providers. Winners will be announced May 1.
  • The American Association of University Women in Washington is assisting the sex discrimination case of former basketball coach Robin Potera-Haskins against Montana State University. The suit alleges that the university had different standards for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, providing fewer resources to the women’s program. Potera-Haskins also claims she received a lower salary and fewer benefits than male coaches.


California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has recommended “elective” sterilization for women who give birth in prison, according to a commentary published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal Jan. 15.

Under the proposal, imprisoned women in California would be given the option of being sterilized, according to the Oakland, Calif.-based advocacy organization Justice Now.

“To describe a sterilization performed under such circumstances as ‘voluntary’ is absurd,” wrote Robin Levi and Vanessa Huang, directors of Justice Now and authors of the commentary. “One’s ability to consent to sterilization . . . during pregnancy and labor is limited in any setting, not to mention in a coercive environment such as prison.”

The authors cited a history of “eugenics” and “reproductive oppression” against people of color in California as key reasons to reject the sterilization program. There are more than 11,000 female prisoners in California, according to Justice Now.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • A Springfield, Ohio, woman has complained to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, and two activist groups–NARAL Pro-Choice America and Wal-Mart Watch–that Wal-Mart refused to sell her emergency contraception, the AP reported Jan. 16. The Food and Drug Administration authorized nonprescription sales of the contraceptive, also known as Plan B, in August, but the woman was told that Wal-Mart employees are not obligated to sell the product if they are morally against it.
  • Few pregnant women in Africa are receiving AIDS drugs that could prevent transmission of HIV to their infants, Reuters reported Jan. 16, citing a UNICEF report. Only 9 percent of pregnant African women from lower and middle incomes had access to the drugs in 2005. However, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa all reported increases in the number of pregnant women who received the drugs between 2004 and 2005. Worldwide, only seven countries in 2005 provided treatment, known as antiviral prophylaxis, to more than 40 percent of HIV-infected pregnant women: Argentina, Brazil, Botswana, Jamaica, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine.


  • A study by British market analysis firm Key Note reveals that 1 in 3 women in the United Kingdom are willing to go under the knife for beauty, the Herald newspaper reported Jan. 13. The study found that the number of women who would consider cosmetic surgery has doubled in the past two years, and predicts that the market for cosmetic surgery will expand to $3.5 billion by 2011. This year, 690,000 procedures are expected to be performed, a 40 percent increase from 2006 and a 240 percent increase from 2001.
  • Fifty-one percent of U.S. women are now single, according to a New York Times analysis of Census data. The number of U.S. women who live without a spouse jumped from 35 percent in 1950 to 49 percent in 2000, reflecting trends among women who are marrying later and living with unmarried partners. Also this week, the China Youth and Children Research Center announced that the average marriage age for Chinese women has increased to 24, due to an increasingly open society and increased opportunities in the workplace.

In Memoriam:

Betty Trezza, 82, a celebrated member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, died this week in Brooklyn, N.Y. At 17, Trezza left her job as an embroiderer in Manhattan’s garment district and joined the league in 1944. She is most remembered for her game-winning hit in the Racine Belles’ improbable victory against the Peaches of Rockford in 1946.

Toyin Adeyemi is an independent journalist based in New York City.

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“Judges Weigh Woman’s Wage Bias at Goodyear”:

“Jailing Pregnant Women Raises Health Risks”:

“Fewer Employers Offering Flexible Schedules”:

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