- BHT Constructions, a Florida-based construction contracting company, passed over hiring a woman who applied for a position as a heavy machinery operator because of her gender, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (EEOC v. BHT Constructions LLC., No. 19-cv- 62145 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 27, 2019)).
- EEOC said the applicant had more than 20 years of experience as a heavy machine operator and that BHT was seeking candidates for "numerous heavy machine operator positions." However, when she applied for a job at one of its worksites, she was told by a BHT supervisor that it did not hire women.
- The conduct as alleged violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, the EEOC said. The federal agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.
Title VII forbids covered employers from discriminating in every aspect of employment on the basis of gender, including hiring. Sex is rarely a bona fide occupational qualification, the EEOC has said, adding that the exemption should be interpreted narrowly.
Employers accused of discriminating against women have paid hefty settlements over the accusations. Earlier this year, an Alaska gold mine to pay $690,000 to settle an EEOC sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by a female miner who was denied promotions while male colleagues with less seniority or training were promoted. And last year, Sherwood Food Distributors paid $3.6 million and agreed to offer jobs to 150 women to settle an agency lawsuit alleging that it discriminated against female applicants at its Cleveland and Detroit warehouses, refusing to hire women for entry-level jobs.
To prevent gender-based discrimination claims, employers may need to adopt anti-discrimination policies and train those involved in hiring and management. Experts have said that managers and supervisors are a leading cause of discrimination claims. A robust reporting system can help, too, experts have said.
Going beyond training, policies and procedures, HR can examine corporate culture, especially in male-dominated industries and occupations, and with buy-in from management, develop business ethics and conduct that support a diverse workplace.