Forest History Society: By understanding our past, we shape our future.

Inventory of the Gene Bernardi Papers, 1971 - 1991

Magnifying Glass What is this document?

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Gene C. Bernardi was a U.S. Forest Service research sociologist for the Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station in Berkeley, California from 1968 until spring of 1975. In 1972, she filed a formal complaint of sex discrimination against the U.S. Forest Service under Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 for being refused a merited promotion and raise in pay by the administration. After several appeals and discrimination suits, including a third party complaint on behalf of male minorities and women in general which was never resolved, Bernardi filed a class action suit on behalf of all women in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The class action suit, Bernardi v. Butz, was filed in 1973, and resolved in 1979 when the U.S. Forest Service agreed to a consent decree, approved by the district court in 1981.
The collection includes materials related to Gene Bernardi's lawsuits against the U.S. Forest Service, such as court documents and correspondence, as well as materials related to Bernardi's professional work, union activities, her activities as Federal Women's Program Coordinator, Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor, and briefly with the Society of Ousted Scientists. Also included are personal notes and journals, publications, and news clippings related to discrimination and Bernardi v. Butz.
Title: Gene Bernardi Papers, 1971 - 1991
Creator: Bernardi, Gene
Repository: Forest History Society Library and Archives
Call Number: 2011-001
Language of Material: Material in English
Extent: 5.5 linear ft.
(11 archival boxes)

Biographical and Historical Note

Gene C. Bernardi was a research sociologist for the Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station in Berkeley, CA specializing in fire prevention from 1968 until 1975, when she left government work in order to work privately. Bernardi received both her bachelor's degree in psychology (1951) and master's degree in sociology (1964) from the University at California at Berkeley. Prior to working with the U.S. Forest Service, she worked as a research associate for the City of Oakland from 1964 to 1967. She began working for the U.S. Forest Service in July of 1968. Her publications include "Fire prevention film spots for television: narrator influence on knowledge and attitude changes," "Three fire prevention television films varying in 'threat' content: their effectiveness in changing attitudes," "Fires caused by equipment used during critical fire weather in California, 1962-1971," and "Fire prevention film spots--reception by television public service directors."

On December 5, 1972, Bernardi filed a formal complaint of sex discrimination against the U.S. Forest Service under Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 for being refused a merited promotion and raise in pay by the administration. In 1981 she was awarded compensation and a raise in classification. After several appeals, Bernardi filed a class action suit in 1973 representing all women employed in permanent General Schedule employment, for discrimination in hiring and promotion policies in U.S. Forest Service Region 5. The case, Bernardi v. Butz (later Bernardi v. Bergland, and Bernardi v. Block), was resolved in 1979, when the U.S. Forest Service agreed to a consent decree, which was approved by the district court in 1981. The consent decree stipulated that the California staff must be in line with the civilian labor force, with women in more than 43% of jobs in each series and pay grade, over the course of five years, as well as increasing the number of women at GS-11 through GS-13 levels for experience and exposure to training for higher administrative positions. Despite strong opposition from the Reagan administration for its quota system and "reverse discrimination," Judge Samuel Conti extended the terms of the consent decree to 1991. The following year, in 1992, both parties agreed to a new settlement that expired in 1994. However, also in 1992, the court passed its final approval of the Settlement Agreement, which suspended the operation of the consent decree.


Collection Overview

The collection includes materials related to Gene Bernardi's lawsuits against the U.S. Forest Service, such as court documents and correspondence, as well as materials related to Bernardi's professional work, union activities, her activities as Federal Women's Program Coordinator, Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor, and briefly with the Society of Ousted Scientists. Also included are personal notes and journals, publications, and news clippings related to discrimination and Bernardi v. Butz.

Collection Arrangement

The records are arranged into six series:

1. Series I: Court cases and appeals

1.1 Subseries A: 3rd party complaint

1.2 Subseries B: Prior discrimination appeals

1.3 Subseries C: Class action suit and consent decree

2. Series II: Professional Activities

2.1 Subseries A: Professional activity

2.2 Subseries B: Federal Women's Program, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and American Federation of Government Employees Local 3217 activities

2.3 Subseries C: Workplace discrimination documentation

3. Series III: Personal notes and journals

4. Series IV: Society of Ousted Scientists

5. Series V: Freedom of Information Act

6. Series VI: Related publications

6.1 Subseries A: News clippings on discrimination

6.2 Subseries B: Other related publications



Subject Headings

  • Bernardi, Gene C.
  • United States. Forest Service.
  • United States. Forest Service. California Region--History--20th century
  • United States. Forest Service. California Region--Officials and employees
  • United States. Forest Service. Region 5
  • Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station (Berkeley, Calif.).
  • American Federation of Government Employees--History.
  • United States. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission--Rules and practice.
  • United States. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission--History.
  • Sex discrimination against women--California.
  • Sex discrimination against women--History--20th century.

Detailed Description of the Collection

1. Court cases and appeals, 1971-1991.

Materials related to Bernardi's discrimination law suits against the U.S. Forest Service, including official court documents and correspondence.

1.1 3rd party complaint. , 1971-1974.

Box 1
Folders 1-3

1.2 Prior discrimination appeals. , 1971-1977.

Box 1
Folders 4-10
Box 2

1.3 Class action suit and consent decree , 1972-1991.

Box 3-4

2. Professional activities , 1967-1978.

Materials relating to Bernardi's work at Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, including notes on sociological studies and Bernardi's involvement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and American Federation of Government Employees Local 3217.

2.1 Professional activity. , 1967-1974.

Box 5-7

2.2 Federal Women's Program, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and American Federation of Government Employees Local 3217 activity. , 1969-1976.

Box 8

2.3 Workplace discrimination documentation. , 1970-1978.

Box 9

3. Personal notes and journals, 1970-1974.

Hand-written notes by Bernardi relating to work activity and court cases.
Box 10
Folders 1-2

4. Society of Ousted Scientists, 1978-1980.

Materials related to the Society of Ousted Scientists, an activist group representing unemployed scientists, with whom Bernardi worked briefly. Includes SOS promotional materials and correspondence between Bernardi and Dr. Molly Gleiser, head of the society.
Box 10
Folder 3

5. Freedom of Information Act, 1973-1976.

Newsclippings of articles related to the Freedom of Information Act and correspondence between Bernardi and the U.S. Civil Service Commission regarding her requests for information about her records.
Box 10
Folders 4-5

6. Related Publications, 1969-1974.

Newsclippings, government publications, and other published materials relating to discrimination, the U.S. Forest Service, and the consent decree.

6.1. Newsclippings on discrimination, 1969-1974.

Box 11
Folders 1-2

6.2. Related publications, 1972-1973.

Box 11
Folders 3-5, and two unfoldered bound volumes.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gene Bernardi Papers, Library and Archives, Forest History Society, Durham, NC, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Received from Gene Bernardi in 2010.

Processing Information

Processed by Camille Tyndall, April 2011

Encoded by Camille Tyndall, May 2011

Support for digitization and outreach provided by the Alvin J. Huss Endowment.