Monell v. Department of Social Services Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

July 1, 1971

Case Description 

Monell v. Department of Social Services is a case in which the New York City Board of Education awarded compensation for female employees who had been forced to take maternity leave.

This case, which was filed in July of 1971, challenged the compulsory maternity leave policy of the New York City Board of Education. After a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that cities were liable for damages under the Civil Rights Acts, the case was settled on the basis of an initial offer by New York of $375,500, to be divided among all women employees placed on forced maternity leave from July 1968 to the time of the case being filed. When many more women than expected responded to notices announcing the settlement, the City agreed to increase the money available to compensate the women to $11 million.

The City paid the claims in the fall of 1981, a full ten years after the lawsuit was filed.