Back in December 2013, I posted regarding a new lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) which involved a grocery store that would not hire a woman for an open courtesy van driver position. The complaint alleged that the store manager told the applicant that he would not hire a woman for the position out of concern that the job would not be safe for a female driver. The applicant otherwise met the qualifications for the position, but a few days later the grocery store hired a male candidate for the position.
This case has now been settled. The applicant, Deborah Newell, will receive $10,500 as part of the settlement. The employer will also adopt and implement a formal companywide anti-discrimination policy. The employer will provide annual training to all of its managers, supervisors and employees regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The employer is also required to provide the EEOC with reports, every six (6) months, which shall include the identities of all employees who have complained that they were discriminated due to their sex.
Remember, the EEOC has focused on eliminating barriers to hiring as one of its six (6) national enforcement priorities. Gender based assumptions in hiring and promotions can quickly lead to claims for sex discrimination. As an employer, do not assume that a woman will not want to work in a traditional male field, i.e. driver, construction, etc. Rather focus on the actual duties of the position and apply them fairly and equally across your candidate pool. So, while an employer hiring for a construction position may screen out applicants who are unable to lift and carry items of a certain weight (assuming that is a real requirement of the position) an employer should not assume that women cannot fulfill that employment requirement.
Dori K. Stibolt is an attorney with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims. You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.