Sex discrimination lawsuit lost when boss misrepresents one fact

by on January 12, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Male may have been better qualified, but employer still lost the sex discrimination lawsuit

When you’re involved in a sex discrimination lawsuit, even the slightest misrepresentation of the facts can blow your case out of the water – whether you’re right or wrong.

A female registration clerk at a medical center applied for a supervisory position. She interviewed with an executive, who suggested that her rumored affair with another employee would block her promotion. The woman complained; the executive was reprimanded and removed from the promotion selection process. The CFO took over for the disciplined executive.

Unfortunately, the CFO failed to re-interview the clerk and never bothered to assess her skills or qualifications. Eventually he promoted a male to the supervisor’s position. The female clerk resigned and sued, alleging sex discrimination.

The employer argued that the man was better suited for the job due to his management experience and computer skills. His management and interpersonal skills may have been better than hers. The company truly believed he was more deserving. But the clerk proved in court that the man lacked the computer skills the employer claimed he had.

Discredited, the employer lost.

In sex discrimination lawsuits like this, the plaintiff needn’t prove she was denied the promotion because of her gender. All she had to show was that the firm wasn’t honest about why it promoted the male. That one little misrepresentation proved deadly.

Cite: Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Medical Center, U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, No. 01-1338 and 01-1350, 5/16/02

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