Lorena Weeks, a native of Wadley, Georgia won a landmark sex discrimination case against Southern Bell in 1969. Two years earlier, Weeks applied for a promotion at her longtime employer, for the position of a 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 (NOW) 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 thirty years of service to the company.
Weeks’ shares her battle for justice along with other key people involved in the case in the new PBS Series on the Women’s Movement, Makers. Russell staff members are delighted to see Lorena’s trailblazing efforts reach a national audience.
“Lorena Weeks is truly one of the unknown heroes of the Women’s Movement. 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,” said Russell Library Director, Sheryl Vogt.
View clip from the Makers program: http://video.pbs.org/video/2331436057/
View full interview from the Russell Library interview with Ms. Weeks: http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/media.html#weeks
Mrs. Weeks donated her papers to the Russell Library in 2010 and they are open and available for research. Learn more about these materials at http://russelldoc.galib.uga.edu/russell/view?docId=ead/lweeks.xml;query=;brand=default