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In the tradition of A Civil Action and Erin Brockovitch, Class Action is a story of intrigue and injustice as dramatic as fiction but all the more poignant because it is true.
In the coldest reaches of northern Minnesota, a group of women endured a shocking degree of sexual harassment—until one of them stepped forward and sued the company that had turned a blind eye to their pleas for help. Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, the first sexual harassment class action in America, permanently changed the legal landscape as well as the lives of the women who fought the battle.
In 1975, Lois Jenson, a single mother on welfare, heard that the local iron mine was now hiring women. The hours were grueling, but the pay was astonishing, and Jenson didn’t think twice before accepting a job cleaning viscous soot from enormous grinding machines. What she hadn’t considered was that she was now entering a male-dominated, hard-drinking society that firmly believed that women belonged at home—a sentiment quickly born out in the relentless, brutal harassment of every woman who worked at the mine. When a group of men whistled at her walking into the plant, she didn’t think much of it; when they began yelling obscenities at her, she was resilient; when one of them began stalking her, she got mad; when the mining company was unwilling to come to her defense, she got even.
From Jenson’s first day on the job, through three intensely humiliating trials, to the emotional day of the settlement, it would take Jenson twenty-five years and most of her physical and mental health to fight the battle with the mining company. But with the support of other women miners like union official Patricia Kosmach and her luck at finding perhaps the finest legal team for class action law, Jenson would eventually prevail.
Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler take readers on a fascinating, page-turning journey, the roller-coaster ride that became Jenson vs. Eveleth and show us that Class Action is not just one woman’s story, it’s every woman’s legacy.
“Tightly written, extensively researched, and well-plotted. . . .With the pacing of a novel, [the authors] engage the reader from the outset. . . . Fascinating.” —Los Angeles Times
“Bingham and Gansler have come up with mesmerizing, complex portraits of the participants in a beautifully paced narrative. . . . Impeccable.” —The Washington Post
“Civil procedure students are now cutting their teeth on Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action . . . and I can now confidently predict that Class Action will similiarly become required reading for employment discrimination law classes."— Alan R. Kabat, The Labor Lawyer
“A complex account of justice sought—and won. . . . Detailed but not dense: a sturdy addition to the literature of social justice and contemporary women’s issues.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Fascinating and chilling, with powerful echoes of Silkwood. I could not put Class Action down.” —David Halberstam, author of War in a Time of Peace and The Best and the Brightest
“Brilliantly reported, documented, and written, Class Action is only about sexual harassment in name. The real story is about the too-frequent indifference and absurdity of both the workplace and our legal system. Protagonist Lois Jenson, a worker in a Minnesota mine, is the real Erin Brockovitch. Her war is not only that of every woman but of every citizen.” —Bob Woodward, author of All the President’s Men and Maestro: Greenspan’s Fed and the American Boom
“Most of us learn about law from the tidy conclusions of judges’ opinions, but Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler reveal a greater truth about our legal system in Class Action. This always riveting, often horrific account of a landmark sexual harassment case is an unsparing look at the real nature of judicial progress—and the costs of even the most dramatic courtroom victories.” —Jeffrey Toobin, author of A Vast Conspiracy and Too Close to Call
“Class Action tells an important story: a story of how the law can effect change and bring justice into our lives. As women, we are indebted to Lois Jensen for her courage and Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler for giving it voice.” —Caroline Kennedy, author of Profiles in Courage For Our Time and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action
“Bingham and Gansler tell the riveting story of the landmark victory won by Lois Jenson and twenty other women who worked in Minnesota’s Eveleth Mines. Backbreaking labor and heartbreaking harassment were their daily fare—so if you’ve ever complained about taking on a man’s job, stop whining and read this brilliant book.” —Linda Fairstein, former prosecutor and bestselling author of The Deadhouse and Final Jeopardy