Monday July 10, Betty Dukes passed away, leaving her championship of marginalized workers to be carried on by others. She was 67.
Engaged from the get-go, she worked as an activist in her community of Pittsburg, California in several causes, lobbying stores to place adult books and videos out of reach of minors, and participating in community school and hospital board discussions.
She is most well-known for launching a national class-action lawsuit in 2001 with five other women against Walmart alleging systemic gender discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 1.5 million female workers were represented by the case.
The New Yorker compared the case to David and Goliath.Yet, in 2011, their case was tossed out of court by a 5-4 vote.
Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg dissented, writing that the case succeeded in demonstrating that “gender bias suffused Walmart’s corporate culture.”
Dukes’s niece Rita Roland told the New York Times: “She was a voice fighting for equal rights and against racial and gender discrimination in the workplace.”
In 2004, Ms. magazine named Dukes a woman of the year.
To learn more about the Supreme Court case, see Betty Dukes Foundation on Betty Dukes V Walmart Stores.