Boston, MA

AOL to comply with blind users

July 26, 2000
To millions of Web surfers, America Online is a user-friendly guide to the sometimes overwhelming Internet. But to the blind, AOL has been little more than a source of frustration. 
    An agreement announced Wednesday aims to change that. 
    The National Federation of the Blind agreed to drop a lawsuit accusing AOL of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. In return, AOL will make its software compatible with programs the blind use to convert digital information to speech or Braille. 
    The pact could open the Internet to thousands of blind people who have been too intimidated -- or too exasperated, to use it, according to Curtis Chong, the federation's director of technology.

Raytheon settles gender suit

June 28, 2000
Defense contractor Raytheon Co. said on Wednesday it settled a discrimination suit brought by three women employees after a federal agency and an arbitrator both found they were passed over for higher-paying jobs.
      ``The matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties,'' said Raytheon spokesman David Polk, who declined further comment.
      The Boston Globe reported that the company had earlier denied wrongdoing in the case, but agreed to settle when the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and an arbitrator found Raytheon violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
      According to the Globe, an arbitrator awarded the three women $870,000. Raytheon sought to have the award overturned, but a federal judge ruled in favor of the women, the Globe said.

Funds cut after orientation discrimination

May 03, 2000
Julie Catalano never hid her bisexuality from the leaders of the Tufts Christian Fellowship, and it didn't seem to matter during her first two years with the campus evangelical group. 
     But last month, when the Tufts University junior tried for a leadership post, fellowship leaders turned her down because she doesn't believe homosexual acts are sinful. 
     In response, an arm of the Tufts student government ruled the group had violated the school's anti-discrimination policy. It stripped the group of its name and $6,000 in funding from student fees, and forbid it to meet in campus classrooms.
     The move left some civil libertarians howling. 

Northwest fined for ADA violation, retaliation

May 02, 2000
The state's anti-discrimination agency has ordered Northwest Airlines to pay more than $200,000 to a former baggage handler who claimed she was fired after cooperating in a sexual harassment investigation. 
     The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination found Deborah Mazeikus, who suffered a disabling back injury in 1994 after slipping on ice at Logan International Airport, was the victim of handicap discrimination because Northwest allegedly refused to accommodate her post-injury physical limitations. 

Hate-driven web sites to be studied

April 24, 2000
One shows an image of a slain gay man burning in hell. Another claims the FBI has declared war on white Christians. A third pretends to pay homage to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., then suggests the civil rights leader was a sex fiend, a communist and a ``plastic god.''
    They are radical, hate-driven Internet sites and they are increasing rapidly.
    This fall, they also will be the basis for a communications class at Emerson College called, which, despite the name, is not connected to any Web site.
    Robert Hilliard, an Emerson communications professor, plans to use the sites to examine how radical groups use the Internet to recruit new members. 

Non-disabled athletes booted from wheelchair race

April 19, 2000
In a first for an event that has already survived the most notorious cheating scandal in running, the Boston Marathon has disqualified two able-bodied competitors for entering the wheelchair race.
     "To the best of my knowledge, that's never happened before," said Marja Bakker, a member of the Boston Athletic Association's adjudication committee. The names of the two competitors were not immediately available yesterday. 

Massachusetts probes toy monkey complaints

February 26, 2000
After hearing dozens of complaints, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has opened an investigation into whether a tavern's display of toy monkeys was meant to mock Black History Month. 
    The Boston Licensing Board received 41 formal complaints about the bar's display on Friday alone. 
    The owner of Tom English's Cottage, Tom English Jr., denied that the monkeys, hanging from vines, were set up as a racist joke. He said the display was no different than the clowns, fish and cartoon characters he puts up during the year.

Statue of Liberty may have been monument to freed slaves

February 08, 2000
The Statue of Liberty seems to be a beacon to Europe's huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But could it have been originally conceived as a monument to freed black slaves?
    National Park Service researchers here are investigating whether the statue dedicated 114 years ago was originally intended to mark the end of slavery in America.
    The park service's official history of the Statue of Liberty notes that the monument was proposed by French historian Edouard de Laboulaye in 1865 to commemorate the friendship between France and the United States born during the Revolutionary War.
    But an unsourced text began appearing on the Internet several years ago and quickly spread the theory that the widely accepted history of the Statue of Liberty isn't true, said Rebecca M. Joseph, a Boston-based park service anthropologist. 

Judge to monitor Boston country club

January 25, 2000
A judge ruled Tuesday he will personally keep an eye on a country club that discriminated against women rather than appointing a monitor to do so, sparing the club from a tactic used on segregated schools but never the 19th hole.
    In a mixed decision that left both sides claiming victory, Suffolk Superior Court Judge John Cratsley ordered the Haverhill Golf and Country Club to rewrite rules that steered women from "primary memberships" necessary for choice tee times and greater access to the facilities.
    But Cratsley denied the state's request to appoint a monitor with full authority over operations -- a step that would have been unprecedented for a golf club. Instead, he issued a permanent injunction against discriminatory practices and said he will hold "periodic compliance review hearings" to make sure the club is going along as ruled. 

Study: corporate glass ceiling still in place

January 19, 2000
Women have made significant gains in the executive suites of corporate America, capturing top CEO spots and holding prestigious board positions. But when it comes to navigating the secondary tier of upper-level management, many find the corporate glass ceiling is still firmly in place.
    A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review demonstrates that women make up slightly less than 50 percent of the workforce, but they account for only 10 percent of the senior management positions at Fortune 500 companies.


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