Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio R.C. § 4112.02(A) it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate based on the sex of the applicant for hiring or promotion. As the United States Supreme Court held in Hunt v. Cromartie, “outright admissions of impermissible [gender] motivation are infrequent and plaintiffs often must rely upon other evidence.” Sometimes, however, employers tell the truth about their intent to discriminate. Take, for example, the case of Contrice Travis, who was recognized by her employer, Excel, as the most experienced inventory employee that it had. While the evidence showed that men who were employed at company routinely got promoted after verbally requesting consideration for open positions, Travis had to complete paper work for the inventory supervisor position recently vacated by her supervisor. When Travis’ departing supervisor recommending Travis for the position, the general manager responded that he would never promote a woman in that position. Ding, ding, ding. We have direct evidence.
There was also overwhelming circumstantial evidence. Obviously knowing what they were doing was wrong, management told a male applicant that he would get the position if he did not tell Travis, who was told by management that the position would be filled.
That male then confirmed that he was an inferior candidate by testifying that management ordered Travis to train him because he had absolutely no inventory experience whatsoever.
Can you imagine that conversation?
“Yes sir. Why are you whispering?”
“We’re going to give you a double secret promotion?
“You can have the job, but when you come to the manager’s meeting, knock three times, pause, then knock twice. The password is ‘testosterone.’”
“But, sir, I don’t know anything about inventory.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll just have that broad teach you everything that she knows.”
So what should an employee do? Go to the HR department, of course. But, when Travis did, the employer’s HR department expressly turned a blind eye by telling Travis that if she had a problem with it, she should transfer or quit. Youser.
This type of systemic and willful conduct will give rise to punitive damages, which is exactly what happened in this case. After a trial, the jury found that Travis $25,000 in compensatory damages, which includes lost wage damages, and then tacked on an additional $475,000 in punitive damages for Exel’s egregious. This does not end the costs for the offending employer, who still will likely face an award of front pay and being required to pay Travis’ attorneys’ fees.
Women deserve to have equal rights in the workforce. Taking it to employers like this is the first step in that process.
If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 273-3742. The Spitz Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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