With Baby, Without Job
An employment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged a Sacramento, Calif., security services company refused to allow a security guard to return to work following her maternity leave. According to the suit, the officer was told that there was no work for her and that she would be called if work became available. The company never contacted her even though the company subsequently solicited applications for security guard positions, according to the EEOC (EEOC v. Quest Intelligence Group, LLC, Civil Action No. CV 2:12 01277).
"The EEOC has seen pregnancy- and caregiving-related claims increase along with the economic crisis, and so we will vigorously defend workers' rights in this area,” said EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado. Over the past 14 years, pregnancy-related cases have risen 31 percent nationally, according to EEOC data. In addition to economic conditions, the increase is thought to be due to the greater number of women in the labor force, increased focus on work-life balance, and greater awareness of employee rights as a result of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
What to do
What can companies, department managers, and supervisors do to combat claims of discrimination from security workers?
Avoid the ‘big six’.
Mike Nosler, and attorney with Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons
, said the most common mistakes that lead to discriminatory discharge claims are:
failing to communicate job expectations;
failing to give notice that an employee is not meeting expectations;
failing to give an employee an opportunity to defend himself of herself;
showing a lack of consistency;
insulting an employee’s dignity; and
failing to understand legal obligations.
Review records. Before terminating a security staffer, review his or her personnel file for offer letters, written promises of continued employment, or progressive discipline. “Juries believe what they see in black and white,” Nosler said.
Break-up the boys’ club. Most of today’s allegations stem from past discrimination, In male-dominated areas, like security, companies need to examine whether historically-biased job practices persist and work to overcome those patterns—in areas such as selective training opportunities.
Look at your security department’s promotion process. Examine:
How people get considered for promotion and whether there seems to be a channeling of employees to promotion opportunities.
The criteria for making promotions decisions and whether stereotyping could be at play or if the process demands proof of performance. (The less subjective the decisionmaking is in the promotion process the better.)
If a structure exists to monitor the handling of internal bias complaints regarding promotions and how it’s utilized. Investigations should look at trends in complaints and not the facts in specific cases.