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Winifred Nance papers

Identifier: MS0118

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of numerous legal briefs, with their attendant voluminous exhibits, and correspondence between Nance, her lawyer, women's organizations, government agencies, labor unions (Nance was a member of the International Union of Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO), doctors, and insurance companies. Nance, in addition to annotating some of the legal briefs, correspondence, and publications, made copious notes on a variety of topics. She also kept a diary from 1972 to 1978, as well as retaining copies of Union Carbide's policies and employee benefits.


  • Creation: 1972 - 1979

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Winifred S. Nance was born on January 27, 1920 and began work at the Union Carbide Corporation, Consumer Products Division, Charlotte, N.C., in 1952. Until her retirement in 1979, she was enmeshed in a number of legal actions and grievances against her employer. Nance filed her initial complaint against Union Carbide with the Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) in March, 1970. In Winifred S. Nance v. Union Carbide Corporation, Nance charged Union Carbide with sexual discrimination against women in regards to the seniority system, promotions, and lay-offs. The EEOC took no action on her complaint. On August 18, 1972, Nance, represented by Bob Belton of Chambers, Stein, Ferguson, and Lanning, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The trial began on March 12, 1974. The following December, Judge James McMillan ruled that under Title VII, Section 703(h) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Nance had been discriminated against on the basis of sex. McMillan then ordered Union Carbide to completely revamp its seniority system for both male and female employees and to develop new rules for determining vacancies and supervisory promotions. Union Carbide appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals on October 17, 1975. On July 28, 1976, Circuit Judge Donald Russell ruled in favor of Union Carbide. Russell stated that the case was an individual action limited to Nance and Union Carbide, and that the District Court's order superceeded the plaintiff's proper entitlement. Nance continued her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. However her writ of certiorari was denied on June 6, 1977. Union Carbide not only won the case but also the petition for fees. As a result, Nance, a $7,000 a year assembly line worker, received a bill for $6,000 to cover Union Carbide's appeal costs. Nance died in Charlotte on May 31, 2011. [SOURCES: Federal Reporter, vol. 540 F2d, pages 718-30; U.S. Law Week, vol. 45, pt.2, no. 26, pages 3475, 3790; U.S. Statutes at Large-88th Congress 2d Session 1964, vol. 78, page 257.]


6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Papers documenting her sex discrimination case against the Union Carbide plant in Charlotte. Consists primarily of legal documents, including motions, briefs, court proceedings, and depositions. Also includes correspondence with Union Carbide and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, material on similar cases, and Nance's personal notes and diaries.


The collection is arranged in the following order:

I. Court Cases, 1972-1979 i. United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, 1972-1978 ii. United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, docket no. 75-2234, Winifred S. Nance vs. Union Carbide Corporation, Consumer Products Division iii. Supreme Court of the U.S.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Winifred S. Nance, 1984.

Processing Information

Processed by Alan Litehizer, 1993.

Winifred S. Nance papers
Alan Litehizer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

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