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Title VII protects men against sex bias, too

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

When it comes to Title VII’s sex discrimination provisions, we usually think of the law protecting women against gender bias. In fact, men can and frequently do complain to the EEOC about so-called reverse sex discrimination.

Recent case: A Nevada health care provider recently settled a lawsuit brought by the EEOC alleging it discriminated against a male ultrasound technician because of his gender.

According to the lawsuit, Ultracare Las Vegas, a medical temporary services agency, placed David with Nevada Health Centers based on his qualifications as an ultrasound technician. At the time, Ultracare Las Vegas had a service contract under which it regularly provided techs to Nevada Health Centers.

Just a few weeks after David started working there, Nevada Health Centers asked for a female replacement. Ultracare agreed and terminated David.

He filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC.

After conciliation efforts failed, the EEOC filed a lawsuit on David’s behalf against both Ultracare Las Vegas and Nevada Health Centers. Rather than trying to explain their actions to a jury, the employers elected to settle. Ultracare paid David $15,000.

Nevada Health Centers’ settlement was more involved. First, it paid David $35,000. But it also had to agree to overhaul its anti-discrimination policies to include a mechanism allowing employees to quickly file discrimination complaints internally and have them investigated. And for the next 30 months, it will operate under the EEOC’s watchful eye.

Advice: Remember that taking gender into account when hiring is illegal—no matter what the gender. The law protects women and men equally. The fact that some jobs have traditionally been filled by members of one sex or the other is not relevant to most hiring decisions.

As this case shows, discomfort with perceived variation from gender norms can be detrimental to an employer’s bottom line.

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