Hernandez v. HCH Miller Park Joint Venture

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  • Workplace Equality and Economic Empowerment
  • Authored Amicus Brief
2005

Determined the right of a female laborer to bring claims of sex discrimination for being forced by her employer to do the most menial work on a job site while being denied more lucrative opportunities

Summary of the Case

The plaintiff, Danielle Hernandez, was one of the few women laborers to help construct Miller Park, a publicly-funded stadium that now houses the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. Ms. Hernandez alleged that she was forced by her employer to do the most menial and boring work on the site, and denied the opportunity to lay concrete, a lucrative task she had performed on many other sites that often led to overtime opportunities. Ms. Hernandez brought suit against her employer for sex discrimination, but lost at trial. Among other rulings, the trial judge rebuffed Hernandez's attempt to introduce evidence about restroom conditions on the site as evidence of the employer's discrimination. This evidence, about the two women's portable toilets on the site, would have shown that the locks had been broken off, they were filthy, men had defaced them with anti-female graffiti, and they had peepholes in the back for men to spy through.

Our Role in the Case

Failure to provide sanitary, private restrooms is a common form of discrimination against female construction workers; depriving women of this basic need communicates hostility to their very presence on traditionally all-male job sites. Legal Momentum wrote a brief as amicus curiae on this point in support Hernandez's appeal of her case. Our brief pointed the court to rulings in other cases that have recognized how sex discrimination takes effect through unequal restroom facilities.

Decision

Unfortunately, the Seventh Circuit ruled against Hernandez, and found that the trial court had acted properly in excluding evidence about the toilets. The appeals court found that Ms. Hernandez had not provided evidence in the trial court that the bathrooms' condition was relevant to whether the employer had discriminated on the basis of sex.

Amicus Brief

Opinion