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Class Action: The Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (October 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385496133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385496131
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1997, in reversing a lower court decision, federal appellate Judge Donald Lay wrote in a sexual-harassment class-action lawsuit, Jenson v. Eveleth, "The emotional harm, brought about by this record of human indecency, sought to destroy the human psyche as well as the human spirit.... The humiliation and degradation suffered by these women is irreparable." Journalist Bingham's (Women on the Hill: Challenging the Culture of Congress) and attorney Gansler's deeply felt and disturbing narrative is the story of what informed Judge Lay's decision. In 1975, Lois Jenson became one of the first women to work in the iron mines of Minnesota and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. Eveleth Mines was Jenson's employer. The center of the story is the 25-year ordeal Jenson and other women miners underwent: the harshness and callousness of the abuse directed at the women in the uncivilized and misogynist atmosphere of the mine will outrage readers. The equally brutal treatment class members received in the civilized venue of the federal court system, especially by the lawyers for Eveleth, will shock them. The matter-of-fact description of Eveleth's lawyers' assault on Jenson's character during a deposition that inquired about the most intimate details of her life has tremendous immediacy. Because of the personal price the plaintiffs pay, and despite the success of the litigation, this account falls somewhere between a cautionary tale about the dangers facing those who challenge entrenched institutions and a bittersweet celebration of the ultimate effectiveness of the justice system.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

A collaboration between a journalist and a lawyer, this volume describes in elaborate detail the tortuous path of the first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit, Jenson v. Eveleth Mines. In 1975, the Minnesota mine hired its first four women as the result of a consent decree; Lois Jenson took one of the jobs. Subjected to disgusting and relentless sexual harassment, Jenson went in turn to the company, the union, the state department of human rights, and finally, in 1988, to private counsel. With Title VII expert Paul Sprenger at the helm, the case took another 11 years, as the company's attorneys waged an intense "nuts and sluts" defense, a strategy that cost the mine $15 million. Although ultimately vindicated, the complainants suffered not only from harassment but from the brutalizing process of the litigation. Jenson herself became disabled by stress from the harassment, the hostility of female co-workers, the length of the legal process, and the invasive interrogations connected with the claim for damages. Excessive detail, compelling though it is, diminishes the book's utility. Recommended for large public and academic libraries. Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The story, itself, is gripping.
B Bard
The story unfolds in a logically time frame from March 1975 to the final financial settlement in November 1998.
Robin Benson
I saw the movie, North Country and had to read the book.
Justice for All

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. Karas on August 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
I could not put this book down. From the horrific working conditions of the women, the lack of respect from the unions and utter denial of management each page makes you madder than the next.

Then pile on top of it the lengthy courtroom battle, a truly evil judge (almost someone from Dickens) and a trial as horrific as the abuse itself you just root for Lois all through the book.

It also exceeds your expectations because it also shows how women can be each other's "worst enemy" in the workforce. Working against one another instead of supporting each other. The other women are victims but also vitimizers of Lois for taking a stand.

Lois' story shows how being a whistleblower can ruin your whole life. Financially, emotionally and healthwise. Doing the right thing for the future but ruining your own life is truly something that only martyrs do. Everyone who makes a difference in this world pays some kind of price for it. That is surely shown in this story.

I highly recommend!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Brady Buchanan on June 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
CAUTION: if you are a fingernail biter, read this book with your gloves on as the contents may cause you "finger" problems. This book reveals employee conduct that is unbelievable, yet true. The authors present a complex case with simplicity that should keep you reading through the night. I read this aloud to my wife and she loved it. There are more twists and turns in this story than any body of fiction. Read it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By TJ8506 on April 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a must read for anyone considering a civil suit. Unlike the other reviewers, I did not feel this book glorified the lawyers. On the contrary, Bingham and Gangsler went further than any other writer by exposing the cost of litigation - the abuse and exploitation of injured litigants by lawyers and judges who make their living off our courts. Lori Jenson is the only heroine in this story. Through the authors I felt her pain and realized her sacrifice for all of us.

But, the screenwriters of North Country made a mistake by concentrating on the sexual harassment part of this story in their version of this book. It is as if they did not read past the first few chapters. The screen writers either missed the message or underestimated the fears of litigants in the over 100 million cases filed each year in American courts. The wider scope of injustice, the legal and judicial wrongs exposed in this book, would have made a better story. But, even if you appreciated the movie, North Country, you need to read this story. The truths it reveals about America's justice system demands that Class Action be a part of everyone's personal library.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on August 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Like some other reviewers I came across this book after seeing the movie North Country. The movie though is just good entertainment pulling at the heartstrings and very loosely based on the legal problems of single mother Lois Jenson.

The book, I'm pleased to say, is much more gripping and will keep you turning the pages until the end. I thought it raised various issues like:

*Why did the legal aspects of this case take from 1984 until a settlement in 1998? In 1997 a judgement from the Eighth Circuit court commented on the 'inordinate delay' and that it simply was not possible for the parties to get justice 'when a final outcome is issued more than ten years' after the case was filed and more than fifteen years since Lois started her class action.

*Why did the mineworkers union maintain such a male chauvinist view towards its female members? I always assumed that Minnesota folk, historically populated by hard working European immigrants in a hostile physical environment would have been much more sympathetic to the sexual harassment that went on year after year in the mines. In fact very few males come out of this story with much credibility, from the mine management down to the union, they are really shown to be sexist and ultra conservative when females start to (legally) work in their domain.

*Why did it take so long for the mines main insurance company, who were going to be the ultimate payers of any compensation, to get to grips with the case? When they did get closely involved in 1998 the problems seemed to evaporate and the ladies got their money

The authors write in a simple straightforward style fortunately avoiding flowery generalisations that seem a staple of non-fiction writing.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By B Bard on September 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Class Action is one of the best books I have ever read. I simply could not put it down once I started reading it. The story, itself, is gripping. If this were a work of fiction, it would stretch the imagination to believe that such things could happen. The fact that this is a true story just stuns the reader to the depth of the soul.
But, beyond the nature of the story, is the excellent writing. It is as engrossing as the best novel - cohesive, fast paced & intelligble. There is just enough legal background and explanation given to make the events understandable to the lay person without making the book a lesson in Civil Procedure.
I cannot recommend this book too highly. Thank you to the authors for bringing this story to the public in such an empathetic and understandable way, and to the women of the story who changed the lives of all human beings for the better.
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