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NOW Press Release on City Hall Gender Discrimination (1972)

(Editors Note: Gender discrimination in Chicago city employment was rampant before the advent of the women's movement. The reigning Daley political machine was very adroit at fending off challenges, but organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union were not easily brushed aside.)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 1, 1972, 11:00 a.m.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) has been working (for the past two years) for passage of city legislation which would prohibit discrimination because of sex. Partial success was achieved in 1971 when two of four of NOW's proposed bills were passed by the Chicago City Council, thereby adding sex to the classifications of persons discriminated against to the Ordinances on Housing and The Commission on Human Relations. However, to date the council has refused to pass what N.O.W. considers its most important proposal, namely, its employment ordinance which would prohibit discrimination because of sex in employment.

N.O.W. started working for a city law on sex discrimination in employment in 1970 when Atty. Charlotte Adelman, Legislative Chairperson, addressed the City Council to speak in favor of such an Ordinance which Alderman Leon Despres (5th) had then introduced. Ms. Adelman was the first woman to address the Chicago City Council on the subject of equality in employment on the basis of sex. But, two years later, after numerous meetings with assistants to the Mayor, phone calls, letters, reintroduction of a similar ordinance by Alderman Despres and publication of his study revealing massive sex discrimination in the City government itself, the Ordinance is still unpassed. If the City feels it has something to hide, N.O.W. points out that those seeking relief from city sex discrimination in employment can file, as Ms. Eleanor Protos recently did, a complaint with the State of Illinois Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC).

The American Civil Liberties Union, Illinois Division, joins the alderpeople and the organizations present in denouncing employment discrimination on the grounds of sex by the City of Chicago.

The essence of the fundamental civil right to equality of treatment under the laws is recognition of individual merit, without regard to the race or sex into which a person happens to be born. When a person's own city practices a clear pattern of job discrimination against him or her, the basic right to equality of treatment by ones own government is seriously abridged.


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