Lawyer, Deceased Person
1923 – 2007
Who was Judith Vladeck?
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of a newspaper distributor and a business manager for a labor union, Vladeck graduated from Hunter College in 1945 and received a law degree from Columbia University in 1947. After having three children, in 1957 she joined the New York City law firm of Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, which her husband Stephen had helped found in 1948. She described the firm as "the last socialist law firm in America."
As a trial lawyer, Vladeck had a reputation for combining courtroom flair and detailed analysis of salary histories and job performance to her cases. She took on powerful entities such as major Wall Street investment firms, Union Carbide, and large universities, and usually won or achieved a favorable settlement.
Vladeck turned her attention to workplace discrimination with the advent of new civil rights laws and rise of the women's movement. In a suit against the City University of New York filed in 1973, Ms. Vladeck traced salary histories for more than 5,000 female faculty members. The judge ruled the university had been discriminating against them for 15 years. In 1975, she represented a professor at Pace University who had been denied tenure. When the university’s lawyers tried to paint the plaintiff as a troublemaker who devoted too much time to challenging the system, Vladeck responded, “The only way women are tolerated is if they are supine, silent and submissive.” The New York State Court of Appeals decision reflected Vladeck's words when it wrote, “Those who fight for rights are often perceived as troublesome, but the law does not require people to be supine.”
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