MeToo hijacked black women’s work on race and gender equality

In 1975, a payroll clerk at the US Environmental Protection Agency named Paulette Barnes sued the agency when she was fired for refusing a boss’s advances. A year later, a former US Justice Department employee named Diane Williams filed a claim against her ex-employers for the same reason. They won their cases, paving the way for the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1986 decision that sexual harassment was a violation of the Civil Rights Act—the result of a case brought by a third black woman, Mechelle Vinson, against the bank where her former supervisor harassed and raped her repeatedly over several years.


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