MAKING HISTORY: Barbara Burns, Coal Miner, Wins Landmark Sexual Harassment Case
In honor of Women's History Month, we are celebrating with 31 days of women's history! Every day in March, we will highlight an historic moment, as told through the personal stories of our MAKERS.
Today we highlight coal miner Barbara Burns and the landmark sexual harassment case she pursued and won. Even as a young child, Burns knew she wanted to make a career for herself, despite the limitations within her small town West Virginia community. This drive led her to become one of the first female coal miners in the country.
What started as a job to pay for nursing school while she cared for two kids became a job Burns excelled at-- until she became the target of endless sexual advances and harassment by her boss.
Unable to take it any longer and scared for her safety, she filed a complaint in 1986. Amazingly, her case dragged on for fourteen years before being ruled in her favor. Despite how long the case dragged on for, Burns has encouraged her coal miner peers and women in other industries to make their voices heard:
"This case being made public really helped other women, and it was worth it."