- An Oklahoma-based car dealership refused to hire the only saleswoman on staff when it took over another dealership, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has alleged in a lawsuit.
- The federal agency said an executive at Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram told another manager, “This is not a lady’s job yet” after it purchased David Stanley Chrysler in 2017. The EEOC said the woman had a successful sales record and had won a customer service award.
- Alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, EEOC asked for damages, training on anti-discrimination laws and posting of anti-discrimination notices.
Although Title VII specifically prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and/or national origin, 64% of U.S. adults in a recent Deloitte survey said they had experienced bias in the workplace within the past year. The report noted that the top three types of biases that respondents said they saw most often were age, gender and race or ethnicity.
Workplace culture can be a contributor to bias, as recent sex bias claims illustrate:
- Champion Chevrolet Dealership in Reno, Nevada, denied opportunities to a female salesperson and subjected her to a hostile work environment that caused her to quit her job after only six months, the EEOC alleged in a recent sex discrimination lawsuit.
- BHT Constructions, a Florida-based construction contracting company, passed over hiring a woman for one of several available heavy machinery operator positions, despite her having more than 20 years of experience, because of her gender, according to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC.
- An Alaska gold mine agreed 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.
Employers can develop a mission statement that bias and discrimination will not be tolerated and that expectations for employee behavior emphasize inclusion, respect and fairness. Compliance training is also important in preventing lawsuits and, in the legal actions it files, the EEOC often asks for anti-discrimination training as part of the remedies it seeks. HR, therefore, may want to make sure that managers and supervisors are provided with training on relevant federal, state and local laws. Anti-discrimination training should be ongoing and ingrained in company culture, experts have told HR Dive. Gaps in training, particularly at the management level, can do more to exacerbate than resolve the problem.
In a recent study by pelotonRPM, managers and leaders surveyed said they aren’t well-prepared to deal with harassment, bias or discrimination. PelotonRPM suggested that companies alleviate the issue by providing better guidance, optimizing training, communicating policies more clearly and ensuring that top brass regularly issue ethics guidance to the whole company.