Gender Bias and Discrimination at Paramount?

Gender BiasWhen gender bias rather than qualifications and experience influence workplace decisions, companies will face legal challenges to their practices. If you believe you have been held back due to your gender, an experienced employment attorney may be worth consulting.

The Case at Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures is facing a gender bias and discrimination lawsuit. The former head of marketing and distribution, Megan Colligan, claims that a culture of gender bias led to her last days with the corporation.

Plaintiff’s Claims of Gender Bias and Discrimination

The suit alleges that female employees are consistently overlooked for promotions. A case in point involves Brad Grey, who left the company in the spring of 2016 and was replaced by Jim Gianopulos. Since that event, four women have resigned from their executive positions. Colligan believes that systemic discrimination at Paramount must be remedied, and vows to fight for the rights of women until the organization is revamped and the matter is resolved.

Paramount’s Rebuttal to Gender Bias and Discrimination Claims

In the meantime, Paramount has promoted a number of women to prominent positions:

  • Mirelle Soria will head the animation department;
  • Elizabeth Raposo was promoted to be the president of production;
  • Syrinthia Studer will lead acquisitions.

California Law on Gender Bias and Discrimination

Both state and federal law prohibit discrimination in the workplace. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) clearly defines the legal requirements for employers with regard to discrimination:

  • It applies to all private and public employers, employment agencies, and labor groups;
  • Companies with five or more employees may not discriminate or retaliate against someone in a protected category;
  • Harassment against such an employee, volunteer, intern or contractor is prohibited.
  • All business practices must be free of discrimination and/or bias, including:
    • Advertising;
    • Applications, job screening, and job interviewing;
    • Hiring, promotions, transfers, separation of workers, or termination;
    • Ability to participate in job training, apprenticeship programs, or other workers’ organizations;
    • Compensation and workplace conditions.

Dealing with Discrimination

When workers do experience discrimination or harassment, they are entitled to file a complaint with the human resources department, or to even sue the company. A number of potential remedies may be attained, including:

  • Remuneration for the differential in pay;
  • Lost past and/or future earnings;
  • Reinstatement after losing a job;
  • Promotions previously denied;
  • Changes in company policy:
  • Training opportunities and fees;
  • Punitive damages;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Court costs and attorney’s fees.

[Read more…]

Workplace Gender Discrimination

workplace gender discriminationWomen in this country face workplace gender discrimination on a regular basis. In fact, over 40% of women report encountering work-place discrimination at some time in their lives. If that is something to which you can relate, the services of an experienced employment attorney may be helpful.

What Workplace Gender Discrimination Looks Like

This is a many-headed monster, impacting women with a bachelor’s degree at much higher levels than women with less education. Those with post-graduate education report discrimination at still greater levels. Overall, women submit that they come head to head with discrimination in a variety of forms:

  • Lower earnings for the same work (25%);
  • Treated as if incompetent (23%);
  • Being slighted repeatedly in the workplace (16%);
  • Not being supported by senior management (15%;
  • Being overlooked for key assignments (10%);
  • Feeling isolated at work (9%);
  • Failing to be promoted (7%);
  • Not getting hired (7%).

Why Workplace Gender Discrimination is so Prevalent

One theory states that stereotypes begin at birth and are nurtured throughout a female’s lifetime, eventually reaching fruition as gender discrimination in workplace situations. This makes sense when you think of pink and blue baby blankets, dolls and Hot Wheels, ballet class and karate class. Gender grooming through advertising, opportunity, and social beliefs feed female employment choice expectations. Research abounds demonstrating the imbalance in focus toward boys in math and sciences and many programs such as debate, sports, and science focus on male participation in secondary schools, while females are encouraged to do volunteer work.  Ultimately, college courses in business and technical fields are dominated by males, whereas females fill courses related to caregiving areas such as education and nursing.

Once women make it into a profession, they often lack female role models and have to fight to make it to the top. Are trends changing? To some degree, yes. Women have taken the lead over their male counterparts when it comes to business startups. Even so, they tend to go into fields customarily viewed as “female” work. Those who do break into a male-dominated field often find themselves battling sex and gender discrimination at surprisingly high rates.

Doing Away With Workplace Gender Discrimination

Without a doubt, women are underrepresented in high-level positions in this country. When it comes to Fortune 500 companies, only 5% of CEOs are female. Females do slightly better attaining executive positions, with 15% of women scoring those jobs. This is troubling when considering the influx of women into the workforce in recent decades. While plenty of organizations have instituted training programs to battle discrimination, the evidence suggests that women still have bias to confront, whether conscious or not.

What is a well-intended CEO to do? Diversity training is a good starting point, but it should not stop there. Other approaches include:

  • Mentoring programs;
  • Diversity committees;
  • A staff position dedicated to diversity;
  • Having joint committees to look at hiring and promotion decisions;
  • Acknowledging bias issues and addressing them publicly.

[Read more…]

Reverse Discrimination? The Court Says No

Reverse DiscriminationReverse discrimination? Male prison guards performing strip searches on female inmates is an issue just asking for a lawsuit, right? The Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) needed a strong response to the lack of female correctional officers, and to a growing number of lawsuits involving the abuse and harassment of female inmates by their male prison guards. Complaints ranging from privacy breaches to sexual abuse were not uncommon. Authorities assigned the primary cause to the severe deficiency of female correctional officers in women’s prisons. The result was that male officers were responsible for sensitive duties, including supervising showers and performing pat-downs and other potentially delicate duties.

In response to this problem, officials designated 110 corrections positions as female-only, only to be slapped with a lawsuit from the Teamsters Union, claiming discrimination against male corrections officers. The Teamsters claimed that creating positions specifically for female officers was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, in that males were denied jobs purely based on gender.

Reverse discrimination? The 9th Circuit Court found that the deliberation behind the decision to create female positions was sound. Because the DOC had undergone extensive study, including consultation with other states, expert soundings, case law reviews, and Human Rights Commission reviews, the decision to make the gender-specific positions was ruled not discriminatory, as gender was, indeed, a bona-fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for the positions created.

Bona-Fide Occupational Qualification in Federal Law

Clearly, gender cannot be a disqualifier for hiring, promotion, or advancement in the majority of cases. On the other hand, a clear exception to Title VII regulations exists when sex is essential to a particular job. Hence, the BFOQ stipulations: They are narrowly applied, but deemed necessary in cases such as the corrections department scenario.

Employers need note that BFOQ is not an easy way out of hiring women for jobs that may traditionally be considered “men’s work.” Stereotypes, assumptions, or simple preferences are not acceptable arguments to use in denying employment based on gender.

Reverse Discrimination and Affirmative Action Programs

Many companies may have affirmative action goals designed to encourage a diverse workforce.  These may be used to strive for parity, but actual quota systems are unlawful unless specifically court-ordered to rectify discriminatory practices.

It is noteworthy, however, that the Supreme Court has found that merit-based evaluations may, in fact, reflect evaluator bias. In an affirmative action plan that gave promotional preference to a woman who had scored marginally lower than her male counterpart, the court found that since the interviewers were all male, and one had a history of sexually degrading speech, the promotion was proper.

In truth, although there are detractors who believe reverse discrimination is a serious problem in our country, fewer than 2% of discrimination cases pending before the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission might be categorized as such. That is because affirmative action plans are designed to assist individuals who already have germane qualifications. [Read more…]

Disclaimer

The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on www.californialaborandemploymentlaw.net or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.