Advocates Hope Meyer Lawsuit Victory Encourages More Women to Act on Discrimination

IOWA  --  Underestimated and under-reported: this is how experts view the issue of discrimination against women in the workplace.

“Women earn 80 cents to the dollar that men earn--that's white women. Women of color are even lower. People have gotten better at being more subtle,” said Drake law professor Sally Frank.

However, with the Jane Meyer lawsuit being judged in favor of the plaintiff, women’s advocates hope it encourages those facing discrimination to take action.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, last year there were nearly 27,000 cases of gender based discrimination; that number does not include state or local charges.

Frank says it's common for discrimination charges to never be filed.

“The low income wage worker doesn't feel as much access to an attorney, can’t afford to pay for the suit as it's going along, and it's much harder,” she said.

Frank says fear of retribution also causes women to keep allegations quiet, but seeing a woman like Jane Meyer win her case adds a feeling of legitimacy to discrimination claims.

“We need those lawsuits, we need those decisions, we need to hold people accountable,” said Frank.

Meyer is also a member of the LGBTQ community, which advocates say also faces rampant discrimination in the workplace.

“About 21% have either experienced some sort of mistreatment, discrimination, not gotten promoted within the workplace,” said Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, Executive Director of One Iowa.

Hoffman-Zinnel says the advocacy group is working with local businesses to create policies that will help stop discrimination before it happens.

“Many businesses don't have those proactive policies in place and they scramble at the last minute to get their policies updated once they have a situation that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Professor Frank suggests women facing discrimination record conversations, emails, and interactions that could help them in a court case.