Gender discrimination has a long, dark history in the United States. For centuries, the workplace—and society in general—has been dominated by men, and only relatively recently have women become almost on par with men in terms of compensation and advancement opportunities.
Subtle Actions Have Major Impacts
A typical pattern in many gender discrimination cases in the modern era is subtle policies or practices that disadvantage women. For example, a company that does not explicitly claim a preference for men in its hiring practice may ask questions about family size or situation in an interview and show bias against women raising or expecting children, or a company might be lax in enforcing policies prohibiting sexual harassment, creating an uncomfortable workplace for females.
There are numerous examples of subtle gender bias toward women in the workplace, which we’ll discuss in greater detail in a follow-up post, but here, we’ll look at a recent example of gender discrimination that shows it can take many forms.
Gender Discrimination Has Many Forms
In a recent press release, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a $41,000 sex discrimination lawsuit against the public Park School of Baltimore. The release reads, in part:
“According to the suit, the Park School hired a male as head softball coach in the spring of 2014 and renewed his employment contract as head softball coach in 2015 and 2016. The EEOC charged that despite his satisfactory job performance, in 2017 the Park School told the coach that it would not renew his contract for the 2017 softball season because of its “preference for female leadership.”
This is quite different from the subtle bias against women we discussed above. Here, we’re looking at an explicit policy favoring one sex over another, which, in this case, had big financial consequences for the school.
The lesson that HR professionals should take from this situation is that discrimination against any gender is prohibited under federal law, and having explicit policies favoring one gender will result in an easy case for the EEOC.