Systemic Discrimination: It’s Also When You Prefer to Hire Women Over Men

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Dec 14, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

Preferring to hire women instead of men? Yeah, that’s called discrimination.

Unless, of course, you’re filling server positions at Hooters. But, I’m not going there today.

Instead, the genesis of today’s post is an article I read last by Stan Parker in Law360. Mr. Parker reports that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is suing a federal contractor, which it claims discriminated systematically against qualified men seeking entry-level production jobs.

According to the OFCCP press release, the employer allegedly used gender stereotypes, but putting women in light duty jobs, which is where the majority of hiring occurred. Meanwhile, OFCCP claims that the men were “relegated generally to loader and utility positions, where less hiring took place. OFCCP also claims that more men applied to the company for jobs than women.

3 key lessons for employers

Obviously, there are just allegations. However, there are three lessons:

  • First, federal enforcement agencies hate systemic discrimination. Therefore, any discriminatory pattern or practice — hiring is a good one — will eventually garner the attention of OFCCP or the EEOC. So, don’t let it get to that point.
  • Second, train your managers to avoid stereotypes. If the shoe were on the other foot here, more physical positions paid more and were in higher demand, and men were favored over women for those positions simply because of their gender, that would be discriminatory.
  • Third, in certain situations, you team may not realize that its hiring policies have a disparate impact on a certain group of individuals. Therefore, a statistical analysis of hiring practices within the company, and compared to others in the industry could help to spotlight and reduce the appearance of discrimination.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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