IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Conference Explores The Role of Flight Attendants in Fighting Sex Discrimination

“The Civil Rights Act @ 50: The Pioneering Role of Flight Attendants in Fighting Sex Discrimination,” a multimedia exploration of the critical role flight attendants played in the enforcement of Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination in the workplace, will be held from 9:30 a.m.-noon on Thursday, October 23, 2014 in IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Governor Richard B. Ogilvie Auditorium located on the Downtown Campus at 565 West Adams Street.

The half-day program, which is co-sponsored by IIT Chicago-Kent’s Institute for Law and the Workplace, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, will take a legal and historical view of how flight attendants successfully challenged workplace discrimination based on gender using Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Participants include Mary Celeste (Lansdale) Brodigan and Mary Pat Laffey, who brought groundbreaking cases against the airline industry. Brodigan, the named plaintiff in Lansdale v. United Air Lines, Inc. (1969), challenged and overturned United’s policy of discharging female, but not male, employees upon marrying. Laffey, the named plaintiff in Laffey v. Northwest Airlines, Inc. (1973), a case brought under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act, resulted in findings that Northwest treated male and female flight attendants differently in areas of hiring, pay, promotions, benefits, and weight monitoring.

Other speakers include EEOC Chair Jenny Yang, EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Dean Harold J. Krent and other co-sponsors. (Lipnic will also moderate a panel discussion with Mary Celeste Brodigan and Mary Pat Laffey). Also participating are Patricia Friend, former international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO; Sonia Fuentes, former attorney, EEOC Office of General Counsel; Kathleen Barry, author of Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants; and IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Mary Rose Strubbe, assistant director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

This event reflects the values expressed in IIT’s Diversity Statement and is intended to promote diversity at IIT.