EEOC: Tampa nonprofit questioned male employee's ability to change diapers, work with pregnant women
- The Children’s Home, Inc., has agreed to pay $18,000 to a male employee to settle allegations that it discriminated against him based on his sex (EEOC v. The Children's Home, Inc., No. 8:17-cv-02262-EAK-JSS (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Sept. 29, 2017)).
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed the suit, alleging the Tampa nonprofit violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it refused to consider a male manager, Luis Vasquez, for a position in the maternity home program because of his sex, the agency said. Vasquez allegedly was told that management "wasn't sure if they would accept males to work at the new motherhood program," and was asked, "can you imagine males changing pampers, working with babies and with pregnant girls?" Soon after complaining about the refusal to consider him because of his sex, Vazquez was advised that there were no other positions available at the organization for him. But Vasquez's less-experienced female subordinate was selected for a newly created position, EEOC said.
- In addition to the monetary settlement, the consent decree resolving the lawsuit also requires the chief of human resources to deliver an annual message to its workforce regarding the importance of equal opportunity, include a statement regarding equal opportunity in all of its job advertisements and applications, report to the EEOC on its hiring practices in its maternity program for the next two years and provide annual training to The Children’s Home’s human resources and management personnel.
Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination applies to men, too, and EEOC enforces those protections. Sex is almost never a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), as this case illustrates.
Failing to hire an applicant based on stereotypes and assumptions about what qualifies as "women's work" or "men's work" generally amounts to discrimination, as does failing to do so based on client or coworker preferences, according to EEOC regulations. In fact, the EEOC only offers one example in its regulations: where it is necessary for the purpose of authenticity or genuineness, the commission will consider sex to be a BFOQ, e.g., an actor or actress.
EEOC has enforced the law's protections for men in several high-profile suits recently. The commission alleged that an Arkansas Buffalo Wild Wings refused to hire men for bartender positions. It also has taken action against employers that offer unequal parental leave for men and women; Estee Lauder recently settled a suit filed by the commission, and shortly thereafter announced 20 paid weeks' leave for all employees.
In the wake of #MeToo, discussion about sex discrimination has centered around women, but the law applies equally to men. The movement, for example, has employers asking recruiters for more women applicants for C-suite positions, but some say they don't know how to communicate that preference, a news report notes, as they worry about violating nondiscrimination laws. There are, however, a number of avenues available to employers looking to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts — diverse candidate slates, for example — that can be implemented without running afoul of the law.
- HR Dive EEOC sues Buffalo Wild Wings for refusing to hire male bartenders
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission The Children’s Home Settles EEOC’s Sex Discrimination Lawsuit