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Colorado woman honored for fighting employment discrimination

One would think that in 2012 sexual discrimination in the workplace would no longer thrive, but unfortunately many workplaces in Denver and throughout Colorado are still characterized by discrimination against women. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women make about 77 cents for every dollar men make, and many women who are just as qualified as men want to see that statistic change.

One woman from Colorado spoke out about the workplace discrimination she experienced during her time as an employee at a sugar factory. From 1999 to 2008, she worked at the factory as an analytic chemist who tested water and product samples. She said the discrimination against women wasn't always overt, but men were given preferential treatment in job assignments, while women were regularly given the less desirable jobs. She said that women were also denied training and were not allowed to transition easily from part-time to full-time work. All of this more or less subtle discrimination resulted in a divide in the factory between jobs for women, which paid less, and jobs for men, which paid more.

Finally, when the woman was denied a promotion about six years ago, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Denver. But afterward, she said her managers would play subtle psychological games with her, pulling her aside and making comparisons between her and other female co-workers who hadn't filed a complaint.

The woman eventually found the work environment to be unbearable, so she quit, concerned that her workplace discrimination claims may never be taken seriously.

However, some of the women at the sugar factory gradually began to speak up, and an EEOC investigator gathered enough evidence against the sugar company that it agreed to a workplace discrimination settlement. The company agreed to pay the woman and other female employees $550,000. The company also said it would implement employee- and management-training programs, as well as begin communicating with women's community organizations.

To honor her efforts to uphold women's rights in the workplace, the woman who initially filed a workplace discrimination complaint with the EEOC was asked to sit next to first lady Michelle Obama during the president's latest State of the Union address.

The former sugar factory employee had this to say about her former employer: "I can't even imagine what's going through their minds that this little girl got invited to the White House because of what happened."

Source: Fox Business, "Victory is Sweet for Sugar Plant Employee," Al Lewis, Jan. 27, 2012

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