School pays $41K to settle suit alleging a 'preference for female leadership'
- A private school in Baltimore has agreed to pay $41,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that it fired a male softball coach because of his gender (EEOC v. Park School of Baltimore, No. 1:18-cv-02319 (D. Md. July 30, 2018) ).
- The Park School of Baltimore hired the softball coach in the spring of 2014 and renewed his contract in 2015 and 2016, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which sued on his behalf. However, when it was able to contract with a female head coach for the 2017 season, it told him that it would not renew his contract because of its "preference for female leadership," according to court documents.
- EEOC alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the school agreed to settle the lawsuit. In addition to the monetary payout, school agreed to adopt a policy prohibiting gender discrimination and retaliation, provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws and report any future complaints of gender discrimination to EEOC.
Title VII forbids covered schools and other employers from discriminating in every aspect of employment on the basis of gender, including hiring. Sex is rarely a bona fide occupational qualification and the EEOC has said that the exception, as it applies to sex, should be interpreted narrowly.
Moreover, EEOC has made it clear that it will act to protect men against sex discrimination. Last year, the Children’s Home Inc., agreed to pay $18,000 to a male employee to settle EEOC allegations that it discriminated against him based on his sex. The Tampa nonprofit had questioned the male employee's ability to change diapers and work with pregnant women. In another instance, the commission alleged that an Arkansas Buffalo Wild Wings refused to hire men for bartender positions; the restaurant settled the claims for $30,000.
EEOC also has taken aim at employers that offer unequal parental leave for men and women. Estée Lauder settled a suit filed by the commission for more than $1 million, and shortly thereafter announced 20 paid weeks' leave for all employees.
To head off gender-based discrimination claims, employers may need to train everyone involved in hiring on compliance with anti-discrimination laws.