Created by renee41 on Mar 16, 2011
Last updated: 04/06/11 at 01:30 PM
The women settled with Eveleth for a total of $3.5 million dollars. Overall, Lois and the other women went through three humiliating trials where their character and personal lives were assaulted over and over again by the Eveleth's lawyers. In addition, they endured the torturous process of litigation, and further torment of working class citizens by the civilized venue of the federal court system.
Throughout the process, Eveleth paid more than 15 million dollars in legal fees and settlements. All of this could have been avoided simply if they had been willing to implement a sexual harassment policy. Instead, Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines became the first sexual harassment class action lawsuit in America, and changed the legal system as well as the lives of the women who fought the war.
The judgement was reversed in December 1997 by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. This time, a jury trial was ordered.
The women endured close to 80 days of brutal depositions the explored their past and personal sexual lives in great detail. They felt like they were raped on the stand. The trial commenced in 1995. According to Sprenger, throughout the testimony about the savage sexual harassment theat accured at the mine, the judge frequently fell asleep; when awake seemed to enjoy hearing about the womens' ordeal. After tje trial the judge expressed much skepticism in his 1996 report, calling the women "histrionic." In the end, he awarded each of them only an average of $10,000. (Soon after the trial, the judge was arrested for shoplifting.)
A retired judge was named special master to oversee a trial to assess the amount of money the women should be paid in damages. He has "old school" beliefs and a past history of sexual harassment. Eveleth Mines' lead counsel during this phase was a woman, and she planned a "nuts and sluts' defense to minimize the amount of damages awarded to each plantiff. Her strategy involved proving that the woman had caused the harassment by their own behavior towards their male coworkers, or were lying about the severity and psychological effects.
A liability trial began in December 1992 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Six months later, the judge ruled the company should have prevented and stopped the misconduct. He ordered Eveleth to educate all employees about sexual harassment, and implement a sexual harassment policy. More women joined the lawsuit to claim damages, including a number who had signed the petition against the lawsuit and had testified on behalf of Eveleth Mines in the first trial. About this time, Lois and another plaintiff in the case were diagnosed with post-tramatic stress disorder, and had to stop working at the mine.
In 1991 the case became the first sexual harassment lawsuit in history to be given class action status.
Two other women had joined the case; however, frightened by the possibility of retaliation, other women who worked in the mines circulated a petition speaking out against the lawsuit. The petition stated the women never experienced sexual harassment, even though all of them had. (The women also placed a hangman's noose above Lois' workplace, and shunned her both at work and in the community.
Jenson called more than 50 lawyers before her case was accepted by an experienced employment discrimination lawyer named Paul Sprenger. In 1988, Sprenger filed in district court.
A single mother on welfare named Lois Jenson was hired as one of the first female workers in the Evelethe iron Mine in Northern Minnesota. She worked grueling hours cleaning soot from huge grinding machines, and along with her fellow female coworkers, endured brutal sexual and gender harassment from the men who believed women should remain home and not compete with men for scarce jobs.
Affirmative Action came to the Iron Range when the U.S. goverment forced steel companies to hand over 20% of their jobs to women and minorities.