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Don’t allow shift preferences that favor some, exclude others

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sometimes, it’s impossible to manage multiple shifts and satisfy everyone. Someone is bound to come to work unhappy.

That’s why it is important to review shift assignments for hidden and perhaps unintentional discrimination. Have you analyzed whether your shift schedule favors one sex over another? If you haven’t, you should—before someone files a lawsuit.

Recent case: When Janet Fralin, a black grandmother, applied for a job as a security officer, she explained she couldn’t work 12-hour shifts or night shifts because she had to care for her grandchild. She got the job, and all went well at first.

Then the company hired several white males. Shortly thereafter, the company told Fralin she would lose her job if she didn’t work 12-hour shifts or the night shift. Meanwhile, several of the new white hires received her day shift. She heard they also had child care responsibilities.

When she declined the 12-hour shifts, Fralin lost her job. She sued for race and gender discrimination. The federal judge hearing the case said the evidence that males hired later got day shifts and may also have had child care responsibilities was enough to warrant a jury trial on sex discrimination. (Fralin v. C and D Security, No. 06-2421, ED PA, 2007)

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