Editor’s Note: Most managers are diligent, empathetic and savvy professionals who know how to get the best from their people and stay on the right side of the law. And then there are the other ones — those whose blunders land them in court, on the news and, sometimes, on HR blogs. Here are a few cautionary tales from the darker side of management:

Everyone knows kids hate the dentist. Apparently, the feeling is mutual
A hiring manager at a Southern California dental practice routinely asked female applicants whether they were married, were pregnant or planning a pregnancy, and/or already had children. Of course, these are terrible questions to ask in a job interview, because they imply a bias against pregnant women and those with family responsibilities. So, not surprisingly, the EEOC sued the employer, which now has settled the litigation for $130,000.

And in case if you think the hiring manager was just making small talk, there’s more: The EEOC said the El Centro-based employer also fired or demoted three pregnant employees.
Cite: EEOC v. Southwest Dental Grp.

We care about your family — which is why we denied your promotion
Managers at a hotel management company in Colorado assumed a female employee couldn’t handle a promotion because of her responsibilities to her children. Now, the company has to pay $105,000 to settle the sex discrimination lawsuit that resulted from the managers’ bad judgment.

The woman was applying for a new job as assistant HR director. But the responsible managers gave it to a less qualified person. They told her the successful applicant would have to relocate and work a 50-60 hour week, neither of which they felt she could do because she had two young children.
Cite: EEOC v. Denver Hotel Mgt. Co.

Pregnant ladies with guns: They’re lucky it was only a lawsuit
A contract security provider to U.S. military facilities barred pregnant employees from taking their annual physical agility and firearms certification tests. The EEOC says these prohibitions were part of a concerted effort by the company, New Mexico-based Akal Security, to force pregnant women to go on leave or leave the company. In other cases, the company forced such employees to take the tests before their certifications expired.

Now Akal has agreed to pay $1.6 million to 26 female employees whom the EEOC represented in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.

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