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You can be liable for ‘Sex-Plus’ discrimination, too

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

You may think the only types of discrimination you have to worry about are those specified in Title VII, other federal laws and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. You would be wrong.

In fact, the federal courts have ruled that an employee’s gender plus another protected characteristic—so-called “sex-plus” discrimination—can create a new protected category.

That means you should monitor whether your employment practices may have an adverse impact on some women, even if your female employees are not discriminated against overall.

Recent case: Theresa Gorski, a woman over age 40, sued Myriad Genetics for age and sex discrimination. But when her statistics expert couldn’t find statistically significant evidence of either sex or age discrimination, Myriad Genetics asked the court to toss out the case.

The court said no. Instead, it ordered a trial at which Gorski’s expert can testify that he did find evidence that the company discriminated against older women. In effect, Gorski could combine her separate claims of age and sex discrimination into a new sex-plus claim. (Gorski v. Myriad Genetics, 06-11631, ED MI, 2007)

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