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Female worker replaced by a female may still pursue sex bias case

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

You may think that your organization is immune from a sex discrimination lawsuit if you hire a female employee to replace a fired female. But such "free passes" don't automatically exist ... and your supervisors should know it.

As the following case shows, hiring a replacement from the same protected class as the fired employee doesn't provide automatic protection from a discrimination lawsuit. That's especially true if one supervisor hired the original employee and a different supervisor hired the replacement.

Recent case: When Kimberly Miles, a Dell computer salesperson, became pregnant, she felt her supervisor's attitude change. Miles complained that the supervisor raised her sales quota and changed her sales territory after the pregnancy. She took two weeks' leave to have the baby but returned to find she was on probation. She was fired several months later. Her supervisor asked to hire a male replacement, but management insisted that he hire another female.

Miles sued, alleging sex discrimination. A lower court dismissed her case because another woman replaced her. But the appeals court let her case proceed, reasoning that if management decided to replace her with another female after her supervisor wanted to hire a male, she could still make a case of discrimination. In this case, it looked like management was trying to stop a lawsuit by hiring a woman. (Miles v. Dell, No. 04-2500, 4th Cir., 2005)

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