Sex Discrimination and Double Standards Cost

by on January 7, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Employer’s false assumption costly

After a supervisor told a part-time firefighter she’d never become a full-time employee because she was a woman, she filed a sex discrimination lawsuit.

According to testimony, the employer assumed women could handle only part-time emergency duties due to their family obligations.

But since the full-timers got benefits and better schedules – and since the employer couldn’t come up with a legal reason for treating women differently from men – a court decided it was a case of discrimination.

The employer extinguished the gender discrimination lawsuit by paying the woman $253,000.

Cite: EEOC v. Indian Hill Fire Co.

Double standard triggers fat award

Do you enforce your firm’s sexual harassment and discrimination policies evenly? United Airlines didn’t and it got hit with a $36.5 million settlement.

It’s legal for some employers to impose weight limits on workers. Example: For safety purposes, an airline may require flight attendants to weigh no more than a certain amount.

But UA applied a double standard: Women had to weigh between 14 and 17 pounds less than men of the same height and age. Thirteen female flight attendants sued for gender discrimination – and won an oversized award.

Cite: EEOC v. United Airlines.

Tough women less popular with supervisors, peers

Here’s further proof of an unintentional double standard applied to female managers that may drain away morale.

Male supervisors who bully workers get higher performance reviews than women who behave the same way, according to research from the University of Notre Dame. And male bullies are seen as “more likeable” by their coworkers than female bullies.

According to the study’s authors, both male and female supervisors seem to expect employees to behave in ways consistent with their gender.

The study suggests proactive HR should periodically monitor performance reviews for gender-based inconsistencies that could fuel a disgruntled employee’s gender discrimination lawsuit.

Source: Mark Bolino, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame.

A womans work

Some people still believe that a woman can’t do “man’s work.” In a recent case, a construction company hired 138 males as loaders/unloaders in its rail yard over a two-year period.

During the same period, dozens of women applied, but the firm hired only three.

Several of women who were denied a job filed gender discrimination cases with the EEOC. A court found that the company discriminated against qualified women. The firm agreed to pay $750,000 in compensatory damages.

Cite: EEOC v. Shelbyville Mixing Center.

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