Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm Not a Sexist Pig, But I Did Sleep At a Holiday Inn Express Last Night

Reporter Andrew Shain at the (South Carolina) reports on the federal Equal Employment action against a a local Holiday Inn Express for old school sex discrimination.

"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said [last] Tuesday it has filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the owner of Holiday Inn Express in Blythewood over the firing of a female maintenance worker. The EEOC said in its complaint against Blythewood Investments that a year after Regina Smyth was hired in 2007, a new general manager commented he could not believe a woman was in her job because it was 'man’s work.'
The new manager also said to Smyth: 'You can’t do this; a man could do this faster,' and, 'He and I will take care of this – it’s man’s work,'   the lawsuit said. The general manager, who was not named, also prohibited Smyth from dealing directly with vendors, saying that was 'man’s work.'

Before the new general manager arrived, Smyth had not been disciplined and received two pay raises, the lawsuit said.  But Smyth was fired in September 2008 and replaced by a part-time male maintenance worker, who was hired a month before. The hotel hired only men for maintenance jobs after that, the complaint said.

Tushar Desai, who said he owns the hotel along with his father and several partners, declined comment Tuesday.   The EEOC, which alleges Smyth was fired because she was a woman, seeks back pay and damages for Smyth and fair employment practices from the hotel.

The suit was filed after the EEOC said it attempted to reach a settlement with Blythewood Investments.

'Unfortunately and incredibly, some employers still believe that a woman cannot perform certain types of work,'  Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte district office, said in a statement."
Years ago I represented a warehouse "selector" for a large supermarket chain who developed a painful back condition arising out of his work activities that involved lifting and physically "palletizing" tons of merchandise for distribution to area stores.   I'll never forget asking the sexist cross-examination question of his supervisor: "Could a woman do this kind of work?"  The supervisor answered: "Not a chance."  The contested workers' compensation case was decided in my client's favor by a local jury largely based on that testimony. 

I seriously doubt that I could get away with that sort of question in this era.  Women in the work place are doing warehouse "selector" jobs.  More importantly lifting has been made safer for both men and women.  Unfortunately, all workers continue to sustain painful and disabling back injuries from all sorts of work.

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