Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Scuncio Chevrolet, Inc. v. Salandra Rhode Island Superior Court (1988)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Plaintiff worked for the defendant and sold cars. Following termination of her employment, she filed a complaint with the Humans Rights Commission. The Commission found she was entitled to back pay, fringe benefits, interest, and that the defendant was to cease and desist its unlawful employment practices. In response to defendant’s appeal, the court found that the plaintiff’s testimony that she was never confronted for unsatisfactory work performance, and she neither received formal evaluations, nor written or oral warnings was credible. Notwithstanding her positive performance, the plaintiff was terminated. The defendant argued that she was “laid-off,” and that the Commission failed to take into account that the defendant did not hire a male replacement for the plaintiff’s position. However, the defendant did hire a male employee a day before it fired the plaintiff. The court found that the Commission was entitled to reject the defendant’s testimony and find that it was clear that the plaintiff was replaced by a male employee. Thus, the Commission’s finding of liability was affirmed.



International Case Law

Ato del Avellanal v. Peru Human Rights Committee (1988)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

In 1978, the court of first instance ruled in favor of Graciela Ato del Avellanal on a claim for overdue rent owed to her by tenants of two apartment buildings she owned in Lima. The Superior Court reversed the judgment in 1980 because article 168 of the Peruvian Civil Code stated that when a woman is married, only the husband is entitled to represent matrimonial property before the Courts; therefore, Avellanal did not herself have standing to sue. Avellanal appealed to the Peruvian Supreme Court, arguing that the Peruvian Magna Carta and the Peruvian Constitution guarantee equal rights to both men and women. After the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision, Avellanal interposed the recourse of amparo (an order to guarantee protection of the complainant’s constitutional rights), claiming a violation of article 2(2) of Peru’s Constitution, which the Supreme Court rejected. In her complaint to the Committee, Avellanal cited violations on the ground that Peru discriminated against her because she was a woman. With respect to the requirements set forth in article 14 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that all persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals, the Committee noted that the Superior Court reversed the lower court’s decision on the sole ground that Avellanal was a woman and did not have standing as such under Peruvian Civil Code article 168. The Committee also concluded that the facts before it disclosed a violation of article 3 of the Covenant which requires the State party to undertake “to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights,” and article 26 which provides that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to its protection.



Velasquez-Rodriguez Case Inter-American Court of Human Rights (1988)

Gender-based violence in general

States are responsible for private acts of violence (duty to investigate, prosecute and punish).