Although the author’s well-delineated examples will ring outrageous to modern-day ears, she reminds us how much there is...

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BECAUSE OF SEX

ONE LAW, TEN CASES, AND FIFTY YEARS THAT CHANGED AMERICAN WOMEN'S LIVES AT WORK

An elucidating study of landmark sex-discrimination cases waged in the wake of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

A Brooklyn-based senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, Thomas presents 10 cases that illustrate the early efforts by working women to find some equality and justice in the workplace, from being hired in jobs once the exclusive domain of men to protection from sexual harassment and from discrimination for pregnancy. A cadre of crusading attorneys and frustrated working women challenged the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency endowed by Title VII to enforce the statute—which included an amendment against sex discrimination almost as a risible afterthought—over many decades after the law’s 1964 enactment, paving the way for the advances of working women today. Each case took years and moved all the way up to the Supreme Court. In 1966, receptionist Ida Phillips was outraged at being refused employment at missile manufacturer Martin Marietta in Orlando, Florida, for having preschool-age children and sought help from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. Her case (Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corporation, 1971) would be the first time the court would consider the meaning of Title VII’s “because of sex” provision. In 1975, Brenda Mieth and Dianne Rawlinson challenged Montgomery, Alabama’s official restrictions against hiring women as state troopers and prison guards (Dothard v. Rawlinson, 1977), and Mechelle Vinson’s attempts to stop the hostile treatment by her supervisor at a Washington, D.C., bank became a groundbreaking case against sexual harassment in the workplace (Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 1986). In the late 1980s, women workers at a Vermont car-battery manufacturer challenged the company’s official “fetal protection” policy, which essentially relegated women to lower-paying jobs (International Union, United Auto Workers v. Johnson Controls, 1991). Thomas takes the cases one by one, delivering an eye-opening reference for lay readers.

Although the author’s well-delineated examples will ring outrageous to modern-day ears, she reminds us how much there is still to be achieved.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-137-28005-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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