Guest Blogger

Stevenson v. Castles

In honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing last week, the PCMC would like to acknowledge her impact on the Canal Zone. In 1973, PCC budget analyst June Stevenson took the Panama Canal Company to court due to unequal employee benefits for women and men. Federally employed Canal Zone women whose spouses were privately employed were denied benefits such as eligibility for housing and free schooling for their children. Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as Stevenson’s attorney and won the case in 1978.

Stevenson’s daughter, Lori Snow, summarizes:

“June A. Stevenson worked originally with a local lawyer who advised her to seek council from the courts of New Orleans once she encountered major pushback from the administrators of the Panama Canal. It was even suggested that my Mom divorce my Dad so she could drop the case and get all the privileges. But through my parents’ efforts, they persevered and sought the council of a New Orleans Lawyer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The rest, as you now know, is history. Following the battle to win the original case, June went on to sue for years of paying tuition, rents in Panama and all other benefits lost, she went on to win the case. There are still women that benefited alive to share their success.”

What do you remember about Stevenson v. Castles or the subsequent effects of the case?

June Stevenson. Photo provided by Lori Snow.
Cover of Stevenson v. Castles court document.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg 2016 Supreme Court of the United States portrait.

9 Comments

  • Alexandria Snow

    June was a woman I always looked up to, not only as my Grandmother but as an example of how a woman can fight for herself and others. I remember when I first heard this story and how it changed how I viewed her past and my future. I am grateful every day for women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and June Steveson. Rest in Power, ladies.

  • Mickey Fitzgerald

    June was the leader in changing the culture and rules within the PCC administration and then throughout the US. I am honored to say I knew her.

  • Joan Ohman

    I just want to add the names of the 7 others named in the suit as “Parties with interest in outcome” that joined June on this journey…Judith Baerg, Angela Campanella, Ray Dymond, Sarah O’Brien, Geraldine B. Olliver, Donald C. Pierpont, and Thelma M. Scott. I worked with June during my career with PCC and proud to call her a friend!

  • Cheryl Russell

    JUNE was one of a kind…with her own infectious laugh and smile (a favorite memory of her),
    a real go-getter….who looked out for everyone (this case in point),
    a fun-loving friend….always up for adventure (our trip to South America for example),
    AND a true lover of chocolate (I want it and I want it now!)

    Just wondering…does anyone know if in this picture, Ruth Ginsberg is wearing a white chaquira from Panama?

  • Chris Fettler

    According to an article published on November 30, 2018 in Town and Country magazine this white collar was RBG’s favorite. It is white lace from Cape Town, South Africa.

  • Bob Zumbado

    My dear wife, Marguerite H. (Neal) Zumbado, a BHS-1954 classmate of June, once told me how much she loved and admired June, particularly for her perseverence, courage and will to bring this matter to the courts. Of course the wonderful work of Ruth Bader Ginsberg is to be lauded but a hero of equal stature on this issue is June Rowley Stevenson.

    Regarding comments on RBG’s white collar one of the TV commentators during the televised ceremonies honoring the justice said that she had two differing collars. One she wore when she was in agreement with the majority. The other gave visual notice that she was about to deliver a well thought out, probably lengthy, and extremely well written dissent.

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