Trailblazer for equity in the workplace, Lorena Weeks, featured in new PBS series
April 2, 2013Print
- Jill Severn
Athens, Ga. - Lorena Weeks, who won a landmark sex discrimination case against Southern Bell Telephone Co. in 1969 and donated her papers to the University of Georgia Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies in 2010, has been chosen for inclusion in the new PBS Series on the Women's Movement, "Makers."
"Makers: Women Who Make America" tells the story of how women have helped shape America over the last 50 years in pursuit of their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy.
Weeks, a native of Wadley, had applied for a promotion at her longtime employer, to switchman, which promised an increase in pay and a significantly shorter commute to work. Despite her seniority with the company, she was denied the promotion because she was a woman and it was a job reserved for men. Weeks knew about the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed by President Lyndon Johnson and felt that Southern Bell had violated her rights under the law, which specified that an employer could not discriminate on the basis of sex. Although she initially lost the case, she appealed, and with the help of National Organization of Women attorney Sylvia Roberts, brought her case before Judge Griffin Bell in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Weeks finally won her case on appeal. She became a switchman at Southern Bell, a position she held until her retirement in 1983 after more than 30 years of service to the company.
"Lorena Weeks is truly one of the unknown heroes of the Women's Movement," said Sheryl Vogt, director of the Russell Library. "She is unassuming in demeanor but possesses the strong sense of right versus wrong and was unwilling to accept blatant discrimination from her longtime employer, a company for which she still expresses a loyalty today. We deeply appreciate her persistent courage to take that step forward for women."
Weeks' segment on "Makers" is available online at http://video.pbs.org/video/2331436057/.
An interview with Weeks is available via the library website at http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/media.html#weeks.
For information about Weeks' collection, see http://russelldoc.galib.uga.edu/russell/view?docId=ead/lweeks.xml;query=;brand=default.