Limiting Women’s Career Options is Sex Discrimination

Today presented another interesting issue regarding the workplace.  A night time supervisor at a hotel was passed over for a promotion to night shift manager because the owner of the hotel felt that it was too dangerous of a position for her. Instead, he promoted a man, claiming that he was looking out for the woman’s safety.  Well, as nice as that sounds, it is considered discrimination.  The courts have determined that it is not up to men or anyone else to decide what is and is not safe for a woman to do at work.  If a woman wants the opportunity to advance, regardless of whether a job is unsafe or dangerous, that should be her decision and no one else’s.  Here are some of the case blurbs discussing this issue:  City of Los Angeles, Department of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 707, 98 S.Ct. 1370, 1374, 55 L.Ed.2d 657 (1978) (employment decisions cannot be predicated on myth or stereotyped assumptions of male or female characteristics); Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. at 334-35, 97 S.Ct. at 2729 (Title VII prohibits refusal to hire an individual on basis of stereotyped characterizations of the sexes; purpose of Title VII is to allow individual women freedom to choose dangerous work); Weeks v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 408 F.2d 228, 236 (5th Cir. 1969) (Title VII rejects romantic paternalism and vests individual women with power to decide whether to take on unromantic tasks); Rosenfeld v. Southern Pacific Co., 444 F.2d 1219, 1225 (9th Cir. 1971) (congressional purpose is elimination of subjective assumptions and traditional stereotyped conceptions about physical ability of women to do particular work); Woody v. City of West Miami, 477 F.Supp. 1073, 1079 (S.D.Fla.1979) ( Title VII prohibits stereotypical culturally-based concepts of ability to perform certain tasks because of sex); United States v. City of Buffalo, 457 F.Supp. 612, 629 (W.D.N.Y.1978) (Title VII intended to strike at entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes); Manley v. Mobile County, 441 F.Supp. 1351, 1358 (S.D.Ala.1977) (chivalry should become neither paternalism nor instrument of employment discrimination against women).

About the Author
Since 1999, Richard Celler has practiced exclusively in the are of employment law, and has handled thousands of employment related lawsuits in claims for overtime, discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, and on behalf of whistleblowers around the country.