It's unfortunate that today, in 2013, beliefs persist that women should not enter or excel in certain positions or career fields.
Sometimes, it's a stance that is held by one individual with significant power. Other times, we find it's a dogma that is pervasive in certain career fields.
Our Boston discrimination attorneys know women in some careers enter their profession expecting discrimination. Others are thoroughly shocked when they face it. The fact is such discrimination has been known to exist in virtually every type of industry since women first entered the workforce en mass in the 20th century. It is in no way limited to blue collar industries or even those traditionally held by men.
This point was further illustrated recently in the contrast between two announcements regarding lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The first involves a national food distributor based out of Baltimore. The EEOC recently filed a lawsuit alleging that the chain has engaged in a practice of routinely failing or refusing to hire female workers for operative positions. The EEOC contends this has been going on since at least 2003.
The company, Performance Food Group Inc., is alleged to have systematically turned down female applicants for the following positions:
- driver check-in;
- forklift operator;
- driver trainee;
- yard jockey;
- receiving clerk;
- meat packer;
- meat cutter;
- sanitation specialist;
- warehouse supervisor;
- transportation supervisor.
Furthering the EEOC's case is the fact that the senior vice president, as well as a number of other higher-ranking management officials, reportedly made comments indicating managers were to favor male job candidates over females. Vice presidents of the firm were said to have questioned why the firm should "waste its time" by hiring women, purporting that women would slow down production. Further, there were statements made to the effect that the women who already had jobs should be pushed out. One management official asked why the firm continued to hire "these girls".
In one situation, a female was refused a promotion for which she was qualified, solely on the basis of her gender. The vice president refused to look at her resume, despite a strong recommendation from her supervisor, saying he wasn't interested in considering a female for the job.
Such conduct, if proven true, would clearly violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After failing to reach a pre-litigation agreement, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against the firm.
In a separate case, the EEOC won a lawsuit against a computer software firm based in Ohio for gender discrimination. Exel, Inc. must pay $500,000 total -- $25,000 in compensatory damages and $475,000 in punitive damages -- for refusing to promote a female employee on the basis of her gender. Back pay will also be awarded to the worker in question.
Back in 2008, a female worker applied for a supervisory promotion. Both she and the EEOC say she was denied solely on the basis of her gender. The EEOC presented evidence showing that male workers were regularly promoted after verbally requesting consideration for open positions.
In this case, the female worker was recognized throughout the firm as the most knowledgeable staffer with regard to inventory control. Yet she was denied a promotion for her boss's job after he vacated the position. The former supervisor had even recommended her for the post. The general manager reportedly responded that he would "never put a woman in that position."
While the woman was told the position would remain unfilled, another male employee was told he would be given the position - but only if he agreed to keep it a secret. Later, the female worker was required to train him because he had no inventory experience. This, the EEOC rightly noted, was indicative of the duplicity toward the female staffer. The jury agreed.