Best Ohio Gender Discrimination Attorney Answer: Is my manager liable for gender discrimination if treats another female employee better because they are dating? Can my supervisor legally promote my co-worker because he is sleeping with her? Is it legal for my boss to only give a promotion and to someone that he is sleeping with?
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer is engaged in an unlawful employment practice if that practice tends “to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
The most common gender discrimination situation that occurs in the workplace is when a male boss, supervisor or manager chooses to promote male candidates over female candidates who are equally or less qualified. What if your boss chooses to promote a female co-worker because they have a romantic relationship outside of the workplace? Can your company be held liable for gender discrimination if they choose to promote their lover over a similarly qualified employee of the opposite sex?
In Clark v. Cache Valley Electric Company, a male employee sued his employer for gender discrimination and retaliation when he complained that his supervisor was favoring another female project manager with bonuses and job assignments. Clark claimed his former supervisor was providing the opportunities to his female co-worker because they were engaged in a romantic relationship. Clark basically claimed couldn’t compete fairly because his boss would never give him the same treatment since he is a heterosexual male. Clark also claimed the company retaliated against him once he voiced his belief that he was not receiving the same opportunities as his female co-worker who was engaged in a sexual relationship with their supervisor.
Clark’s case was dismissed on a motion for summary judgment by the district court, which held that Clark’s sex discrimination claim failed mainly because he could not show his supervisor was providing preferential treatment to other female employees. To show a prima facie case of gender discrimination, there must be some showing by the plaintiff of conduct that is preferential to one gender over another. Even if Clark was able to show the rumors that his boss was sleeping with his rival co-worker were true, he was unable to show that his boss was providing the same treatment to other female co-workers in the workplace. In fact, the employer was able to introduce a similar complaint against Clark’s supervisor by another female employee. Clark’s retaliation claim similarly failed because the employer was able to provide sufficient evidence to show that Clark was terminated for a non-discriminatory reason—he refused to work with his supervisor along with various acts of insubordination.
The trial court held:
The Tenth Circuit’s decision in Taken v. Oklahoma Corporation Commission is instructive in the present case. In Taken, the plaintiffs brought claims of race and sex discrimination under Title VII against their employer after the plaintiffs were not selected for a promotion. The individual who made the promotion decision awarded the promotion to a man with whom she was romantically involved, despite the man being less qualified. In addressing the plaintiffs’ sex discrimination claim, the Tenth Circuit held that the plaintiffs did not state a claim for relief under Title VII, because the allegations were “based on a voluntary romantic affiliation, and not on any gender differences.” The court went on to note that “[f]avoritism, unfair treatment and unwise business decisions do not violate Title VII unless based on a prohibited classification.” The court declined “to extend Title VII to include consensual romantic involvements.”
Similar to Taken, Clark’s claim of sex discrimination is based on allegations in the complaint that he was receiving unfair treatment as a result of a relationship between his supervisor, Mr. Perschon, and a fellow employee, Ms. Silver. Additionally, in his deposition, Clark acknowledged his belief that Ms. Silver was receiving favorable treatment from Mr. Perschon. In Clark’s opposition, however, Clark attempts to abandon the basis of his claim and argue that Taken does not apply because there is no evidence Mr. Perschon and Ms. Silver were ever engaged in a sexual or romantic relationship. Clark’s attempt to disavow the basis for his argument and this lawsuit is unavailing. Clark argues that Taken requires the existence of an actual relationship in order to apply the holding, but that proposition is not stated in the case. Taken only refers to allegations “based on a voluntary romantic affiliation,” and does not require that the plaintiff show the existence of an actual relationship. Clark’s sex discrimination claim is based on allegations of a “voluntary romantic affiliation,” and thus Clark has failed to state a claim for relief under Title VII.
In some form, this makes some sense. If a boss hires his girlfriend into a small family business, showing favoritism would be no different than nepotism favoring a nephew. I think the key language here is that it has to be a “voluntary romantic affiliation.” So, if one female vice president, secretary, nurse, or assembly line worker gives into the quid pro quo sexual harassment demands of a male boss and gets favored treatment, the voluntary aspect of this requirement has not been met. At that point, not only would the woman who gave into the sexual demands have a claim, but a claim for gender discrimination by less favored males would have a much better shot of prevailing.
It still remains illegal for an employer to treat employees differently because of their gender. Employers still cannot base their decisions to hire, fire, or promote an employee because of their gender. If you believe your boss is engaging in a pattern of behavior of targeting all members of a certain gender for favorable or unfavorable treatment, you may have a claim for gender discrimination.
If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your gender or sex, then call the right attorney. It is never appropriate to discriminate against female employees. Discrimination against women includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied a promotion, and denied wages or not receiving equal pay. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from The Spitz Law Firm to discuss wrongful discrimination claims and help you determine the best way to pursue your gender/sex discrimination claims.
The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to gender discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.