DENVER - The Denver Hotel Management Company (DHMC) will pay $105,000 to settle a sex discrimination case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the company refused to promote a single mother because she had children.
According to the EEOC lawsuit, the woman was denied promotion to a newly created position of assistant human resource director because of her caregiver responsibilities as the mother of two young children, and the job was given to a less qualified and less experienced employee. The managers explained to the woman that she was being passed over for the job because of her role as a mother of young children, asserting that she could not relocate or work the required 50-60 hour work week because she “had a full-time job at home with her children,” the EEOC said. According to the EEOC’s complaint, the woman was never asked if she would be willing to relocate or work extended hours. Instead, the decision-makers assumed that because the complainant was the mother and primary caregiver for small children, she would be unwilling to relocate or work extended hours.
Discrimination based on stereotypical views of a woman’s caregiver status is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
DHMC has agreed to pay $105,000 to settle the case (EEOC v. Denver Hotel Management Company, Inc., Civ. No. 10-cv-01712-REB-BNB.) Under the consent decree settling the suit, DHMC also agreed to revamp its discrimination policies and conduct training for all of its employees to explain how stereotypes concerning a person’s family responsibilities can constitute illegal sex discrimination.
“Making assumptions about a woman’s ability to perform a job which are not grounded in fact, but instead on stereotyped assumptions about her inability to work long hours due to her child care responsibilities, is unlawful discrimination,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “The Supreme Court has acknowledged that there is a pervasive stereotype that caring for family members is ‘women's work,’ and that this stereotype remains firmly rooted in our society. The EEOC is committed to eliminating all forms of sex discrimination from the workplace.”
EEOC Phoenix District Office District Director Rayford Irvin added, “We are pleased with the initiatives that DHMC has agreed to in this settlement. We look forward to seeing its efforts to promote individuals into management positions without basing its decisions on illegal, stereotyped assumptions about a caregiver’s ability to balance the competing demands in that person’s life.”
In May, 2007, the EEOC held a Commission meeting to issue enforcement guidance on discrimination against people with caregiving responsibilities; and in April, 2009, held a second meeting on best practices on work/family balance. More information about these meetings can be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/archive/5-23-07/index.html and http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/4-22-09/index.cfm.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.