Equal Employment Opportunity Too Heavy A Lift For One Employer
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), enforcer of federal anti-discrimination laws, settled a case with one employer that allegedly failed to hire a female applicant, who possessed equal or more experience than male applicants, because the position required the applicant to lift and move heavy objects.
According to the lawsuit, the store manager expressed skepticism that the female applicant could actually lift heavy weight. The case is styled EEOC v. Safelite Autoglass, 1:22-cv-00887.
(I can see the women who regularly lift heavy weights grinding their teeth at this.)
And, Here Are The Details
During the female applicant’s interview for “auto glass technician trainee” (no idea what that is!), the female store manager allegedly suggested a different position for the applicant because it involved lifting less weight.
Naturally, this other position paid less than the one the applicant sought.
The EEOC’s Complaint alleged that employer hired two men instead – one with less experience than she had and one with about the same experience – in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), the federal law prohibiting unlawful employment practices on the basis of sex.
The Western District of Texas court entered a Consent Decree requiring the employer to pay a $45,000 settlement to the female applicant and requiring a heck of a lot of training for the employer — especially its hiring managers!
You know what this reminds me of? The female truck driver who filed a complaint against her employer for sex discrimination and a hostile work environment when it ignored comments such as telling the driver that she should be home baking cookies instead of driving a truck.
Title VII Prohibits Discrimination Based On Or Because Of An Employee’s Gender.
One example of sex discrimination is failing to hire a woman because of outmoded, stereotypical beliefs about what a person can or cannot do because of their sex.
Hmmm, maybe like a woman lifting heavy weight?
In fact, discrimination on the basis of gender stereotypes, i.e., violates Title VII’s proscription against sex discrimination. In Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court of the United States wrote:
an employer who acts on the basis of a belief that a woman cannot be aggressive, or that she must not be, has acted on the basis of gender…An employer who objects to aggressiveness in women but whose positions require this trait places women in an intolerable and impermissible Catch-22: out of a job if they behave aggressively and out of a job if they do not. Title VII lifts women out of this bind.
SCOTUS expressly condemned sex stereotyping as a form of sex discrimination.
Title VII prohibits an employer from treating an applicant or employee differently, or less favorably, because of sex and prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes about abilities and traits associated with gender.
Employers, train your managers to engage in fair hiring practices and not to make assumptions based on sex. If not, you’ll eventually have to pay for it.