Blog Posts: Age and Sex Discrimination
In a federal lawsuit filed on December 10, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged Bay State Milling, a major U.S. flour and grain producer, with violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The EEOC alleges Bay State Milling’s plant manager told Gary Legore, a 52-year-old male, that he would not be hired for a miller position because the manager was seeking a “younger” person he could “groom.”
A jury awarded a former RadioShack employee $187,000 in back pay after finding that RadioShack willfully fired the employee for complaining about age discrimination. The judge in the case will soon decide whether the employee will be awarded substantial additional amounts, including front pay and a doubling of the back pay.
Laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity are part of a rapidly expanding frontier in anti-discrimination law. In July, Massachusetts joined 15 other states, Washington, D.C., and approximately 140 local governments in banning employment discrimination based on gender identity. Earlier this year, the EEOC ruled that gender-identity discrimination violated the sex-discrimination provisions of Title VII.
After the 2010 BP oil spill, several women who applied for employment with BP’s contractors to work on the cleanup filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that they were not considered for the jobs because of their gender. BP and the EEOC recently settled the case. BP denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay $5.4 million to a class of female applicants in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Federal law makes it illegal to treat workers over 40 differently than workers under 40 when it comes to any terms or conditions of employment. This was illustrated recently in the unusual case of a 71-year-old lifeguard who was fired after failing a swimming test. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the employer, claiming the employer suspended the lifeguard when he failed the test and then fired him before he had a chance to take a retest, while it allowed younger workers who failed the same test to keep their jobs. The lawsuit recently settled, with the employer paying the lifeguard $65,000.
EEOC: Transgender Discrimination is Sex Discrimination; Transgender Discrimination Bill Passes New York State Assembly
On April 20, 2012, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) issued a ruling clarifying that discrimination against transgender persons violates the sex-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The EEOC issued a new rule, effective April 30, 2012, that allows employers to defend against disparate-impact age-discrimination claims by showing that the practices involved are based on “reasonable factors other than age (RFOA).” Disparate-impact practices are those that do not involve intentional discrimination but are more harmful to workers age 40 and over than to younger workers. The RFOA regulation applies only to disparate-impact claims; it does not apply to claims of intentional age discrimination.
Federal law prohibits discrimination against workers 40 and over in all aspects of employment. In an unusual age-discrimination lawsuit, a woman is suing her former employer, alleging that she was fired for refusing to dye her gray hair.
It's common for employers to look at the public Facebook pages of job applicants. In a new twist, though, some employers want to peek into private Facebook accounts. Some employers have been asking applicants to "friend" them, let them watch while the applicants log into their accounts, or even hand over their Facebook passwords. Others are asking applicants to sign into third-party apps that collect information, such as friend lists, from their profiles.
The number of older people in the workforce is going to continue to increase, according to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau estimates that by 2018, there will be 43 percent more workers aged 55 and older than there were in 2008. The changing workforce makes it even more important for employers to take precautions against age discrimination.