The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently filed a federal lawsuit against a Mississippi trucking company (the “company”) for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) for not hiring female truck drivers. The EEOC alleges that for more than thirty (30) years the trucking company only hired males even though it received applications from females who were equally or better qualified than male applicants.
In 2015, a female applicant who was not offered a truck driving position with the company complained to the EEOC that the company discriminated against her based on sex. The female applicant claimed that she met every qualification for one of the five (5) open truck driver positions with the company but the trucking company offered these positions to only males even though the female applicant was equally or better qualified than the males who were hired.
The EEOC alleges the company has been committing unlawful employment practices of only hiring males for truck driver positions. The EEOC further alleges that the trucking company employed no females as truck drivers since it opened in 1986. As of 2016, the company employed over 100 truck drivers and none were females. Based on this information, the EEOC claims that the company’s hiring practices have deprived females of equal employment opportunities because of their sex. The EEOC is requesting monetary damages for the class of female applicants who were allegedly discriminated against.
Under Title VII, employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on race, color, religion, sex, and/or national origin. California law is more expansive and includes more protections than Title VII. An employer’s failure to hire a female when their qualifications are equal or superior to those of male applicants can create liability for an employer if the practice is frequent or if the employer refuses to hire an applicant solely based on gender.
Employers may face are a variety of Title VII and state law violations that stem from direct or indirect actions towards employees or job applicants. For example, a job posting targeting a specific sex or gender, even if discrete, can trigger an EEOC investigation since the posting itself may tend to deprive individuals of equal employment opportunities by limiting the applicant pool to a specific gender. Therefore, California employers need to be aware of their hiring practices and keep in mind the federal and more expansive state protections afforded to individuals under Title VII and California law.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
EEOC lawsuits are very costly since they can be very fact-driven. Employers faced with an EEOC complaint and/or investigation should contact counsel immediately to establish a strong defense. If you would like to review and update your company’s hiring policy, please contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.