I was born on August 26, the anniversary of the day that women won the right to vote. Being politically active and an advocate for women's rights came naturally. A legacy or destiny.
I started college with no thought of becoming an employment discrimination lawyer. As an award-winning high-school artist (National First Prize in the "Hallmark Cards High School Talent Search") I won a full scholarship to Michigan State University, from which I graduated (magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) with an ever-so-useful degree in Art History.
My radicalizing experience for a born-on-the-26-of-August woman was not so much of an epiphany as a reality check: getting passed over for promotion in my first job out of college in favor of a man because you'll get married, get pregnant and quit. Women in the 70s were supposed to have husbands, babies and homes not careers. I sensed that I'd been discriminated against, but didn't know what to do about it. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was relatively young. Few lawyers brought gender discrimination suits. (The only reason that women had been included in the Act was because a segregationist opponent sponsored a floor amendment, thinking that including women would create enough baggage to sink it.)
So, I somehow was drawn to an organizational meeting for a Fort Lauderdale chapter of the National Organization for Women and its message of equality catapulted me into driving around the state for a couple of years in a 1960 Oldsmosbile with two babies in tow to organize NOW chapters across the state. NOW honored me by electing me to its National Board of Directors in 1972. I lobbied in Tallahassee for the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973 and 1974. A male legislator told me that no one like you' could ever get elected. I did, in 1974 (at age 27), as the first woman from Broward County, Florida, to serve in the Florida House of Representatives. My campaign slogan during that Watergate/watershed year: It's time.
One term in the Florida House was enough. I retired from politics and went to law school, graduating and becoming a lawyer in 1979.
In 1982, I married my now-partner and soul mate Bill Amlong (a former Miami Herald reporter I had met while I was in Tallahassee but that's another story). We started our little mom and pop law firm that year, struggling like most small businesses do. I did (and still do) a lot of family law; while Bill did a little bit of everything at the beginning.
He started litigating the discrimination cases that my former NOW colleagues referred to us, which got us started in employment rights. We are still a mom and pop law firm, although we have grown far beyond our initial vision and now concentrate primarily on workers' rights. We've done well. I won Florida's first significant sexual harassment judgment. Stockett v. Tolin, 791 F. Supp. 1536 (S.D. Fla. 1992). Bill won a Supreme Court case that changed the contours of sexual harassment litigation.
Since Stockett, I have tried dozens of other cases about sexual harassment and gender discrimination. I have practiced more than 25 years. I am AV Peer Review Rated* through Martindale-Hubbell. I have lectured extensively on employment law, discrimination and sexual harassment on local, state, national and international levels. I teach at the Florida Bar Labor & Employment Section's intensive trial skills program.
I love what I do. I believe in women. I believe in people being judged on what they can do, not on things they can't change like their genders, their races or their ages.
We have an amazing group of people in our law firm with an incredible collection of talents and passion for what they do. We seek out the non-traditional. That is our strength.
Think about it.