TWO VICTORIES- FINALLY
MA BELL PAYS HER BILL
Lorena Weeks of Wadley, Georgia,
was awarded $30,76l April 19 by the
U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
because of sex discrimination in the
employment practices of Southern
Bell Telephone Company.
Ms. Weeks is the plaintiff in
Weeks v. Southern Bell, the first
sex discrimination case under Title
VII to reach the level of Circuit
Court. The sum awarded to her included back pay, all claims for overtime, premiun pay, evening and night
differentials, travel pay and expenses, and interest.
According to Sylvia Roberts,
NOW Regional Director-South and
attorney for Ms. Weeks, "Lorena is
the first woman to receive appropriate relief after a court ruled a
company violated Title VII."
The Weeks case began in March,
1966, when Ms. Weeks bid for the
job of switchman which paid $51.50
more per week than she was earning.
Denied the job solely on the basis
of sex, she filed a complaint with
the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission. They investigated the
case and ruled in her favor but
were unable to secure a voluntary
agreement with Southern Bell.
Ms. Weeks then sued in federal
court. Southern Bell claimed that
the job involved "strenuous activity"
including lifting a 31-pound relay
time-testing set. Further, a Georgia
labor regulation forbade women and
minors lifting weights in excess of
30 pounds. The district court
Since her attorney was unwilling
to appeal. Ms. Weeks contacted NOW.
Sylvia Roberts took her case. After
the briefs were filed in Circuit
Court, the Georgia weight-lifting
regulation was rescinded.
The Fifth United States Circuit
Court ruled that sex was not a bona
fide occupational qualification for
the job of switchman and that Southern
Bell's refusal to consider Ms. Weeks
for the job violated Title VII. On
March 4, 19711 five years after her
initial bid, Lorena Weeks was given
the job of switchman.
Noxtf chapters demonstrated nationally March 29 against Bell system
affiliates to protest Southern Bell's
failure to give relief to Lorena
According to Ur. Jo-Ann Evans
Gardner, NOW Board member from
Pittsburgh who coordinated the nationwide action, "The Weeks case was
truly a landmark decision. This is
a triumph for women across the country who organized actions in more
than a score of cities. Southern
Bell would not obey the Federal
Court order until NOW showed its
determination to publicly embarrass
the company nationally. We intend
to keep up the pressure in each of
the cities where the demonstrations
were held, to oppose rate increases,
and press the unions to protest until
AT&T changes its hiring policier, to
truly equal employment opportunities
for women and minorities."
It's a sister!
After more than a decade, the
Texas legislature has approved the
Equal Legal Rights Amendment. The
Texas House approved the resolution
April 27, 119 to 25. The Senate had
passed the resolution unanimously
The legislative approval will
allow the voters of Texas to decide
on the proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw sex discrimination in
the statp. The proposed amendment
reads: "Equality under r,he law shall
not be denied or abridged because of
sex, race, creed, color or national
origin." It will be placed on the
November, 1972, general election
The ELRA faced a serious threat
on the House floor. Representative
Rayford Price of Palestine offered
an amendment to exempt property rights
To Hermine Tobolowsky
legislative chairman and past
president of the Texas Federation of
Business & Professional Women's
Clubs, who has lobbied, tirelessly
for the women of Texas for 13 years.
To Rex Braun
Harris County representative,
District 23, who was House sponsor
of the Equal Legal Rights Amendment.
To Don. Kennard
State Senator from Ft. Worth who
spc'-rored the Equal Legal Rights
Amendment in the Senate.
from coverage under the sex discrimination ban. The amendment was
Seven Harris County House members voted for the Price proposal.
(See Snit List this page.) Fifteen
Harris County House members voted
for the final passage. Will Lee,
Sid Bowers, and Jack Ogg opposed it.
Curtis Graves of Houston was absent.
Although a njmber of discriminatory laws were reoealed in the 19&7
session of the legislature, many remain on the books. The ELRA, if
passed by the voters of Texas, would
not only remove these laws, it would
ensure no discriminatory laws could
The passage of the ELRA in
November, 1972, must be of top priority to those concerned that all shall
be equal under the law in Texas„
Harris County Legislators who
voted against the ELRA:
Harris County Legislators who
voted for amendment to exempt
property rights from coverage
under the sex discrimination ban
Rill Illy the
Bill T. Swanson