A sex-discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision in 1972 by more than 100 women employes of The Washington Post was settled yesterday.
The agreement provides for $104,000 in monetary awards, $42,500 in legal fees, $100,000 for new scholarship and sabbatical programs for women employes, and a five-year, affirmative action plan that guarantees that at least one-third of all job vacancies in the newspaper's editorial and commercial departments will be filled by women.
The agreement stated that the settlement "does not constitute an admission by The Post of any discrimination on the basis of sex, or any violation of Title VII, as amended (of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964)." Moreover, the agreement recognizes that since 1972 "substantial efforts have been made by The Post in implementing its policy of equal opportunity for women."
"We're glad to have this complaint settled," said Washington Post publisher Donald Graham. "We have worked very hard on affirmative action for both women and minorities and I think the results speak for themselves."
"I think it's a good settlement," said Linda Singer, attorney for the 117 women who filed the complaint along with the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. "But I don't think anyone can answer the question of whether this is going to solve the problem."
The monetary awards ranging from $50 to $250 a person depending on the length of employment, will be paid to 567 women who worked at The Washington Post for at least six months and were employed between May 1972 and June 1974.
"It's strictly token back pay," said Claudia Levy, editor of the newspaper's real estate section and head of the women's committee that filed the complaint. "But the affirmative action element is promising."
In 1974, in response to the complaint that was filed, the EEOC found "reasonable cause to believe" that The Post discriminated against women in promotions, salaries and certain aspects of hiring in all major departments of the newpaper. At the time the complaint was filed, 14.9 percent of newsroom employes were women. Today, 25 percent are women, and Post management emphasized that it believes the affirmative action goals have been met recently.
"Certainly the numbers have increased," said Elsie Carper, assistant managing editor for administration. "But I think the paper's still got a long way to go."
Prior to 1972, Carper said yesterday, sex discrimination at The Post was pervasive.
"Newspapers are so much of the old boy network," Carper said. "I don't know how many young men I trained on jobs who went on to better ones."
Was The Washington Post a Sexist Organization?
"Yes," said Harry Rosenfeld, former asistant managing editor of The Post's Metro section, "but only in the sense that all American society was sexist."
In 1972, 8 of 51 Metro reporters were women, making Rosenfeld the most frequent target of the discrimination charge. "There were a couple of women using the currency of the women's movement to cover up their shortcomings," Rosenfeld said yesterday. If there was any discrimination, he said, it was not deliberate.
As of December 1979, 23 of 82 Metro reporters and editors were women.
Although many female employes said yesterday that The Post had made significant advances in the hiring and promoting of women, they agreed that the newsroom was still dominated by white males.
"The question is, how many women AME's [assistant managing editors] are there? How many department heads?" said Sarah Booth Conroy, one of the original signers of the complaint and editor of the Style Sunday Living section.
"If this is a victory, I'd hate to see a defeat," said Mary Lou Beatty, one of two women assistant managing editors in The Post's newsroom.
Jane Huffman, market research analyst, in the commercial department, called the settlement weak. "I'm totally dissatisfied with it," she said yesterday.
Huffman had lobbied for a job classification study to determine what responsibilities were actually held by women employes. She also wanted to see pension benefits for older women employes included in the settlement.
"I think there are an awful lot of inadequacies in the building now," she said. "I wanted something for the victims of discrimination here at The Post. That has not been accomplished."
Judy Mann, one of two female columnists for The Post's Metro section, said no real gains for women will be made until management begins to groom young women reporters for more prestigious jobs at the newspaper, such as foreign correspondents and critics.
"[The paper should have] career sessions with them, to track their careers," she said yesterday. "I think it's to the detriment of the newspaper not to do that."
But several women said yesterday they felt greater strides had been made in other sections of the newspaper.
For example, two women were recently appointed corporate vice presidents by publisher Donald Graham. Company officials also cite the advertising, personnel and circulation departments as examples of departments where affirmative action programs are working.
The Post said in the agreement that it would "make a good faith effort" to attain certain hiring and promotion goals for women, including these:
33 1/3 percent in filling positions for all officials, managers, and professionals in the combined news and editorial departments. Also, 33 1/3 percent for all assignment editors, critics and columnists.
33 1/3 percent in filling positions for all officials and managers in the combined commercial departments (accounting, administration, advertising and circulation) as well as 45 percent in filling outside sales positions.
A procedure whereby any female employe may take her request for a change in title and/or salary level to the publisher.
40 percent of those hired in the news department's summer internship program will be women.
Three Scholarships and two sabbaticals for current women employes who were also employed by The Post as of Nov. 29, 1972.
A monitoring and enforcement program, inlcuding weekly meetings, evaluations and the naming of a manger to deal directly with the personnel director and publisher on all matters concerning equal employment.
Two years ago, The New York Times settled a four-year-old sex discrimination suit by agreeing to pay $233,500 in annuities to approximately 560 women employes. The newspaper also agreed to implement an affirmative action hiring and promotion program.