Civil Rights

A move by Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) could split the coalition that is seeking to revive the civil rights legislation vetoed by President Bush last year. Dole's staff is currently readying a bill designed to help women fight job discrimination. A draft measure includes a study of the "glass ceiling," subtle discrimination that keeps women out of the top echelons of management. The senator's wife, Elizabeth Dole, had pushed for such a study during her tenure as Labor Secretary. A far more significant provision would allow women to win damages of up to $ 100,000 for sexual harassment that occurs in the workplace.

The 1990 Civil Rights Act, which would have reversed several U. S. Supreme Court rulings that weakened the ability of minorities to win antidiscrimination suits, would also have expanded women's rights to sue in harassment cases. Women's groups remain committed to another stab at the broader legislation and they are unhappy with the Dole proposal to put a ceiling on damages. But the bill could weaken grass-roots support for the more sweeping measure. It could also make it more difficult for Democrats to attract the GOP support they would need to override another veto.

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