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

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  282 ratings  ·  45 reviews
A petite single mother, Lois Jenson was among the first women hired by a northern Minnesota iron mine in 1975. In this brutal workplace, female miners were relentlessly threatened with pornographic graffiti, denigrating language, stalking, and physical assaults. Terrified of losing their jobs, the women kept their problems largely to themselves—until Lois, devastated by th ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Anchor (first published July 7th 1999)
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Holly
This was an incredibly informative, well written, and heart wrenching book. It's been a few years since I saw "North Country" but from what I remember, it absolutely pales in comparison to the book. The authors tell the story so well that I felt emotional several times while reading about the horrendous struggle the brave women at Eveleth Mines went through dealing with sexism at work and then dealing with retaliation & health problems after filing the lawsuit. The lawsuit lasted 14 years. A ...more
Deb
This is the true story behind the movie "North Country", about the first class action sexual harassment suit filed for women employees at Eveleth Mines, in Virginia, Minnesota. This is one of a bunch of towns on "the Range", Iron Range, about an hour or so from Duluth. Still haven't been there. I had the pleasure of meeting the heroine of Class Action, Lois Jenson, when she visited a writing class at UWS. The book doesn't do her justice (really, it doesn't). A brave and fascinating woman. The su ...more
Agnes
Aug 25, 2007 Agnes rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of gender equality and legal history
This was such a fantastically written piece of nonfiction that I read it in one day, which is quite unusual for me when it comes to nonfiction. It recounts the story of the landmark Jenson v. Eveleth Mine Co. case that first made it possible to bring a class action lawsuit based on sexual harassment, to hold a company responsible for its hostile work environment, and to award damages based on emotional and psychological distress stemming from sexual harassment. Hard to believe that the case wasn ...more
Drick
After seeing the movie "North Country" I was interested in reading this book which inspired the movie. The movie, which does not intend to be a re-telling of the actual events does a good job of depicting the nature of the harassment inflicted on the women who went to work in the Eveleth Company mines in northern Minnesota. The sexual harassment class action brought against the country was the first sexual harassment class action in the country and changed the course of litigation against sexual ...more
Bob Schmitz
I saw the movie "North Country," enjoyed it and so read the book. As is so often the case the movie is much neater, less complicated and happier than the book.

In the late 1970's Lois Jensen is a single mom who needs a better paying job and when she hears the Eveleth Mine in Forbes, Minnesota is hiring women she applies and is hired. The mine is a very hostile atmosphere for a few dozen women that work there. Crude remarks, unwanted touching, grabbing, gross graffiti, waved dildos, feces-smeared
...more
Jennifer
This is the story of the case (Jensen v. Eveleth Mines) that defines what we as a society today generally consider "common sense" regarding sexual harassment or gender discrimination in the work place. This is the case that informed the content of those "sensitivity training" or "sexual harassment" courses many of us are required to take in the work place - the ones most of us are tempted to consider ridiculous. It also set the precedent that protects sexual harassment plaintiffs against overly ...more
Lacey Louwagie
It's hard for me to say I "liked" this book because, even though it was well-written and kept my interest high, it was also so emotionally excruciating to read. I listened to this in audio form, which made it a twelve disc set. After the first three discs outlined the sexual harassment the women at Evelyth Mine faced in detail, I felt certain it could "only get better from there." But the entire experience these women endured, for almost twenty years of their lives, was harrowing. The sexual har ...more
Felicity
Apr 28, 2008 Felicity rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in civil rights and 20th century social history
Wow. This book is well worth reading, not for any great artistry of prose, but for the story it tells. This case, dramatized (and actually toned down, I hear) for the big screen as North Country is unbelievable. Unbelievable the crap these women went through in order to get a living wage, unbelievable the tactics brought to bear against them by the company's lawyers, and unbelievable, to me at least, that this case and all its legal implications were not resolved until 1998.

I think by 1998 I'd a
...more
Kelly
Great book! Strongly recommend to males and females. If you are reluctant because you saw North Country this is WAY better and the movie actually diverges quite a bit from the true story, which is much better. It is so sad that women used to have no legal protection in their areas of work. A lot of people complain about sexual harassment laws but after reading this you’ll see just how necessary they are. A lot of interesting insight on the justice system and how it can put the very people it set ...more
Fred
Much different than the movie North Country which is partially based on this book. I liked the movie, as a movie it's very good but you cannot say it is a direct translation of the book or what really happened. The problem with reality is that it sometimes gets a bit dull. The middle section of the book detailing the endless trials these women go through was a bit much for me. If you're a student or lover of all things latigious you'll probably really enjoy the book.

What the women in the mines i
...more
Amber
Shocking to learn that the sexual harassment in the movie North Country was actually somewhat milder than the real-life occurrences detailed in this book. Very thoroughly researched and easy to read, and very informative about some truly shocking abuse, and Court decisions, that were just not that long ago.

Authors' lack of understanding of business and economics (steel "dumping," acting like it's a bad thing that businesses care about profits, promoting "buy American," etc.) was a little gratin
...more
Stacey Wagner
I read this book while working at Ev-Tac in 2005. I didn't know the history of the place until I got there and someone recommended I read the book. I was HORRIFIED that things like this take place in modern society. I passed the book around to all my female colleagues (we were there for a computer project that lasted about 8 months) and we all started looking over our shoulders, because the men mentioned in the book still work there. The place might have a different name now (U-TAC), but it unne ...more
Kyra
Jun 29, 2011 Kyra rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this shortly after seeing the movie "North Country" that was based off of it.
Both the movie and the book moved me deeply.
It gave me hope to read about the trials & tribulations of how long it took to build this class action suit on discrimination against women.

Come a few days ago when the Supreme Court seems to decide that women are no longer a protected class and have ruled that women can not bring a class-action suit against that worker abusing monstrosity Wal-mart.
Peterladwein
An inside look at the nation's first sexual harassment class action lawsuit. Really sheds light on the adverse effects the litigation process has on plaintiffs -- which is totally eye-opening. Plaintiffs had better be prepared to be raked over the coals by unscrupulous defense attorneys. Very well written, if not a bit emotionally exhausting at times (Louis Jenson did suffer tremendous emotional distress from all this, and it rubs off on the reader).
james
(I had to read this for class, so maybe that made it less enjoyable.)

All I remember from the books is that the North Country is full of sexist pigs. It was not a very exciting book, but Bingham did a great job making a non-fiction book read like fiction.

Also, it seemed rather biased toward the plaintiffs. Even though apparently the defendants and defendants' counsel refused to be interviewed, I feel the book could have been more evenhanded.
Mary Frances
This is a great book for those interested in legal cases. It deals with a sexual harassment class action suit against a mining company, in fact the first class action certified for such claims. It is also a great picture of how recently the world was even less concerned about workplace behavior toward women. When the case was first decided, I used it in legal writing classes I was teaching, as it was very new law at that time. It is not a dry compilation of the facts but does an excellent job of ...more
Linda
May 01, 2014 Linda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Linda by: a Walk a Crooked Mile Books find
My favorite genre to read is nonfiction that is so well written you can't put it down. Sometimes it's because it races along like a novel (Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age comes to mind). Other times it's because the author does such a good job of contextualizing the main story with side journeys into related topics to give you a fuller understanding of the main story (Triangle: The Fire That Changed America is an excellent example of this type). Class Act ...more
Kim
Great story, but the movie was horrible. If you read the book and then see the movie you will have to ask "What the....?" The actual story is fascinating enough - Hollywood did not need to cheese it up and change important storylines. For someone who grew up near the Iron Range in the 70's at the height of the feminist movement and all of the controversy that brought, this was a great read.
Tizz Wall
i felt the virgin/whore dichotomy was played up a little too much in the beginning--the start of the book has a very sensationalized approach, which is unnecessary. it doesn't matter whether lois jenson was prim, prudish, or a big ol' slut. no one deserves to be treated the way she was treated.

other than that, the story was an inspiration.
Rod Zemke
I enjoyed the book, but it took some liberties with the facts. I know the woman who represented the mining company (a good person and a feminist). It would have been nice if Bingham could have interviewed her for the book (the attorney could not discuss the case as that was part of the settlement).
Kate
Nov 17, 2007 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in workplace issues, sexual harassment
Very interesting book about the first class action sexual harassment lawsuit. The story was the basis for the movie North Country, though the movie greatly oversimplified the legal battle, which went on for more than a decade.
Sarah
It was good for the knowledge I gained, but I think I would have liked it more had I not had to read it in two days for a class that I am taking. Took me by suprise and opened up my eyes for sure.
erin cosens
the best account of the difficulty of filing a suit against sexual harassment and the gross failures of sexual harassment law.
Denise
A great legal history of the first class action sexual harassment case. It manages to be inspiring, thorough, and fair to both the community affected by the case and the women who suffered to bring the case. The authors are unafraid to make the plaintiffs' suffering real, which is a good sign for a legal history- often the temptation seems to be strong to romanticize the valor of a fight for justice, when really it's just exhausting. Though not as exhausting, the book makes clear, as the harassm ...more
Nadine Lund
A dramatic story written without drama. Well worth the read.
Marissa
Totally geeked out on this one. It's infuriating and empowering. The only problem I had with it was that I knew that the accounts were not up to par with what the actual people involved wanted and thus the portrayals of them were a bit inaccurate. However, the book definitely gets the point across and describes the first class action sexual harassment law suit very well
Gayle Gordon
Borrowed from Commerce Public Library.
This is a great story and really inspiring. It's amazing that it takes so much to change entrenched attitudes. The harrassment the women had to put up with would be considered way out of bounds today, but only because of the struggle of people like Lois Jenson who spend a large portion of their lives fighting injustice. Good read!
Colin
Clara Bingham somehow turned the first class action hostile work environment lawsuit into, like, an action movie. Someone get this woman to turn Gender Trouble into the next Terminator film please.

Particularly enjoyed the side notes about Catharine Mackinnon's legal theory in Sexual Harassment of Working Women, because I like seeing Catharine Mackinnon's name in print.
Janet
Living in Minnesota and being a frequent visitor to Northern Minnesota makes this book particularly interesting. It is amazing what these women encountered as they tried to enter the work force in the iron mines. There determination and persistence is amazing. I seem to be a big fan of biographies. Read for both book clubs, but several years apart.
Margaux
This is the true story of the first sexual harassment class action suit filed in the U.S. It is essentially what started sexual harassment training in the workplace. The movie "North Country" was based on the events in this book, which, incidentally, took place in Minnesota. I tend to enjoy legal thrillers.
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Women on the Hill:: Challenging the Culture of Congress Class Action : The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law

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