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Don’t assume you know what women want

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sometimes, managers make decisions based on outmoded notions of women, their role in society and their commitment to their families versus their work and employers.

Make sure you warn supervisors to guard against such attitudes.

Recent case: Maria began a romantic relationship with a co-worker at a Chipotle restaurant. Soon, she was pregnant, a fact she revealed at the restaurant only after she fell off a stool at work. Soon after, Maria’s doctors placed her on lifting restrictions.

Shortly after that, her schedule changed. Then Chipotle fired her boyfriend and completely removed Maria from the schedule. She complained.

Her supervisor told Maria she had been removed from the schedule because management assumed she would no longer want to work for Chipotle after it had terminated her boyfriend. She was, however, promised that within a few weeks she would be placed back on the schedule.

She never was and eventually she sued, alleging sex discrimination. She argued that Chipotle had relied on outdated misconceptions about women in the workplace. For example, she argued that her supervisor’s comments were evidence of sex discrimination because inherent in his statement was a stereotypical view that women aren’t dedicated to work when it conflicts with family issues.

The court said Maria’s case could move forward. (Ramirez-Cruz v. Chipotle Services, DC MN, 2017)

Final note: Removing someone from the schedule or changing a schedule without first discussing it with the employee isn’t a good idea. That’s especially true when the employee is pregnant and the schedule change isn’t based on her request, but on a supervisor’s assumptions.

Yes, you may have to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees because of temporary, disabling pregnancy-related restrictions. But requests for schedule changes must come from the pregnant employee, not assumptions that a manager makes.

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