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Law Office Management

May 2, 2006

[Television] The Human Face of Civil Liberties

Putting a human face on civil liberties

By Chuleenan Svetvilas
      "They didn't want a woman in that position," says the blond caller talking into her cell phone from a restaurant. "My stats are higher than his. I was so counting on that promotion.... I wish I could file a complaint, but you know how hard it is to prove discrimination." Then, in the next scene we see a waitress groped in the kitchen by her boss, who tells her: "If it wasn't for that nice ass of yours, I'd fire you."
      So opens "Women's Rights," the May episode in a ten-part television series called the ACLU Freedom Files, which was produced by the American Civil Liberties Union and Brave New Films. As ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero describes it, the goal of the series is to show the importance of civil liberties to ordinary people. The show airs on both Court TV and Link TV, a satellite network.
      In the "Women's Rights" episode, which will be carried on Court TV on May 13 and on Link TV May 11, we hear from several ACLU plaintiffs. Among them is Amorette Avila, a young woman from California who participated in a successful class action against the city of La Puente for its discriminatory treatment of female softball players. "[The lawsuit] wasn't for myself, because by that time I was already too old to play [in the youth program], but I have two sisters and cousins," says Avila. "I was so happy that there could be change."
      We also meet Quinn Bouley, a woman whose landlord evicted her from her apartment after her husband attacked her. Her federal case was the first to hold that the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against domestic violence victims. And then there's Angela Peralta and Maria Gonzales, two immigrant workers who were sexually harassed by their employer, who also paid them less than minimum wage.
      The episodes are only a half-hour long, but lots of information is packed into each segment, using split screens and other techniques to keep the viewers' attention. And, of course, for the ACLU, these programs offer the opportunity to reach millions.
      For information on upcoming episodes, visit

Jeanie Liun

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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