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Interviews of, and Articles about, Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Articles about Sonia are also contained in the section on Belgium.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes

The Civil Rights Act at 50: The Pioneering Role of Flight Attendants in Fighting Sex Discrimination

On Oct. 23, 2014, at the IIT-Kent College of Law in Chicago, Sonia was a panelist at a program in Chicago by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and, in particular Title VII of that Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, and, more particularly, the early flight cabin attendant (stewardess) cases.  Sonia drafted on behalf of the Commission the lead decision in those stewardess cases finding that U.S. airlines violated Title VII when they grounded or terminated stewardesses on marriage or on reaching the age of thirty-two or thirty-five.

You can watch the entire program, which runs two hours on Youtube, or just move to the part where Sonia makes her principal remarks for seven minutes, which starts at 53 minutes and 58 seconds from the beginning of the video. 


One of the panelists, who spoke before Sonia, was Professor Kathleen M. Barry, the author of Femininity in Flight," published in 2007 by Duke University Press, which contains several references to Sonia. One is on page 156, where Professor Barry states: "Though overt champions of women's rights were few at the early EEOC, Hernandez [Commissioner Aileen Hernandez] and Sonia Pressman Fuentes, third in command in the general counsel's office, were feminists who became centrally involved in stewardesses' cases."

On Nov. 14, 2014, EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, whose brainchild the Chicago program was, sent the following note to Sonia: 

photo image of written note

The EEOC issued a press release about the panel discussion, including a picture of those involved, on Oct. 24, 2014. Sonia is in the front row at the furthest left wearing a beige sweater and a necklace.