HDR thirdshift

Stereotyping jobs can lead to charges of discrimination

Nearly 2,500 men received back wages, interest, and benefits because they were steered by the employer to “men’s work” and not hired to do “women’s work.”

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), part of the U.S. Department of Labor, investigated a food production plant in Florence, Alabama. The plant, now owned by Hillshire Brands Company (formerly Sara Lee Food and Beverage), had $14 million in contracts with the U.S. Defense Commissary Agency to distribute sandwiches in the agency’s facilities.

When men applied to work at the plant, most were employed to be dumpers and stackers. When women applied to work at the plant, they were employed as biscuit assemblers. All jobs had the same qualifications. The OFCCP reviewed a period from 2009 to 2010. During that time, 98 percent of the applicants hired to be biscuit assemblers were women and 99 of the applications hired to be dumpers and stackers were men. Because fewer dumper and stacker positions were available, relatively few men were hired.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Hillshire will do the following:

  • Pay $330,000 in back wages, interest, and benefits to the rejected male applicants.
  • Make 73 job offers to men as positions become available.
  • Review and revise its selection process.
  • Provide better training to its hiring managers to eliminate practices that result in gender stereotyping.

OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require federal government contractors and subcontractors not to discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.

What does this mean for employers?

It’s always a good idea to examine patterns that may develop in hiring practices. Even though there may be no conscious desire to discriminate on the basis of sex, a cultural bias may play an unwitting part in how and why people are hired. In fact, anti-discrimination laws are not only designed to address conscious discrimination, but also to address this type of unconscious discrimination, sometimes referred to as “disparate impact” discrimination.

Items on this web page are general in nature. They cannot—and should not—replace consultation with a competent legal professional. Nothing on this web page should be considered rendering legal advice.

© 2015

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