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Part 2: Remembering a landmark Wisconsin sexual harassment case

Regular readers of our Milwaukee employment law blog know that we wrote recently in this space about a landmark Wisconsin sexual harassment case in the late 1970s and early 1980s that helped pave the way for today's powerful #MeToo movement.

Warehouse worker Carol Zabkowicz was enduring sexual harassment at her Oak Creek job, but refused to quit. Her income was crucial to her family’s financial health.

In fact, Zabkowicz and her employment law attorney Michael R. Fox decided to fight back against the sexual harassment she endured. In 1984, they took her case to court and won.

She remembers the relief she felt when the decision was announced in court. "Vindicated. We put the truth out there, and it worked. They believed us."

Zabkowicz was awarded $2,763.20 in back pay, but the victory wasn’t in the money. "Truly, the monetary damages were not important to me, it was more so ‘This harassment, this behavior has to stop.’ It’s just not something that people should have to go through."

She and attorney Fox went on to testify before Congress in 1990, telling lawmakers that the Civil Rights Act needed to be amended to allow for both compensatory and punitive damages in cases like hers.

They also argued to Congress that sexual assault cases needed to heard by juries.

Fox said, “That’s important because jury trials are a vehicle to communicate to the people you live around, the general community and to let people know these things are happening, and allow the community to stop it.”

The amendment Fox and Zabkowicz argued for was, in fact, made law. It stands to this day, helping to protect Americans from sexual harassment and sexual assault.

If you have suffered sexual harassment, you can contact attorney Fox of Fox & Fox, S.C. to talk about your rights and legal options.

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