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Gender discrimination in male-dominated industry

#1
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

Hello,
I work for a Fortune 500 Company in a male-dominated industry as a salesperson. Over the past several years, I have noticed my boss handling situations one way with me, but totally opposite with my male coworkers (I'm a woman). I am the only woman on my team, and the only female salesperson in our office. Here are a few examples of what he has done:

1. I once had a customer cancel on an event last minute due to a work emergency. The event had already been paid for, but when I turned it in on my expenses my boss made me pay it back to the company since the customer did not attend. When this happened to my male coworker he was not made to pay the company back.

2. My male coworkers were getting promotions, even though their product lines were losing money. My product line was making money, a lot of it, so I asked for a promotion and was told "no" by my boss. I was distinguished as the top sales rep for my product line out of all reps in the USA during the same time frame that I asked for the promotion.

3. My boss would not approve my Uber ride to and from the airport while I was traveling out of state for work. However, he approved my male coworker's Uber ride so he could attend a baseball game and not have to worry about parking his car or drinking and driving. There were no customers in the Uber ride of my coworker.

This is just a short list of the things he has done that seem unequal and unfair. He once told me I had the strongest relationships with customers out of anyone else in our office, and that it was probably because I'm a woman. I think he's threatened by me, although I'm certainly not after his job position. There is much more to the story of why I am asking, but I want to make this as discreet as possible.

Do you think I have a case against him?
 


cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#2
I think you have a valid reason to suspect gender discrimination, yes. But you are still a long way from a lawsuit; there are steps that need to be followed and you do not get to skip any steps.

Has any of this been reported to HR? If not, that is your first step. (For the purists I will add that yes, there are some circumstances under which this step can be skipped, but there are always risks to doing so and in this situation I would not recommend it. It's one thing if it's a small mom and pop organization with 18 employees and the harasser/discriminator is the owner; it's quite another in a large corporation which likely has policies and procedures to follow in the case of illegal treatment). Report it to HR, in person if possible, and give them a reasonable time to take any necessary action. If that stops it, fine. If not, the next step is to file a complaint with the EEOC and/or your state equal rights commission. Only after you have a right to sue letter from one or the other do you get to go to court.

You might want to discuss everything with an employment law attorney before you go forward.
 
#6
Yes, you are right in being offended at the disparity in how you were treated, but you have not been damaged to the extent that a lawsuit would even be necessary.

Don't waste your time filing a complaint with the EEOC because they will be more concerned in finding out if there are large numbers of co-workers who have also been discriminated against, and that does not apply in your situation.

You could have declined to pay back the expenses for the cancelled event. Work within the company to see if the Uber expense can be set up in travel expense guidelines to be approved in advance of the trip. Were you given a reason for not being given the promotion? Have you been given performance reviews so you can determine if there are any dissatisfactions with your job performance so far and has your performance as top sales rep in the USA been documented in writing in your salary reviews/job evaluations? Is it possible there was not enough money in the budget at the time you asked for a promotion? You are not getting the respect you deserve at this firm.

Bottom line is if you do not think you will be happy in this working environment, you will be better off at another firm--send your resume to a headhunter and no doubt you will get other offers you will be more satisfied with pursuing.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#7
Don't waste your time filing a complaint with the EEOC

Oh, really? You mean she shouldn't bother filing a complaint with the appropriate regulatory agency even though doing so is MANDATORY if she ever wants to take legal action over this?

OP, you MUST have a right to sue letter from either the EEOC or the state equivalent before you can file a lawsuit. I do not agree with Don that you do not have enough damages to bother. I am not prepared to say conclusively that you have a suit to bring, but I am far from certain that you don't either, and filing with the EEOC is not optional if you want to take legal action.

Please discuss this with an employment law attorney and give all the details to him or her, and then make your decision.
 

HRZ

Senior Member
#8
OP ...you may or may not have a winnable point about gender discrimination ...but in terms of return on personal investment, IF you are a top revenue producer you might do far better to seek employment where your ability is better rewarded ..People who can bring n business are always in demand .
 
#9
Don’t listen to dandy don saying if it’s only one person the eeoc won’t bother.

There is a situstion near me where one woman in a male majority business just won an award (cash) and was given the right to seek additional (punitive and additional compensatory) damages.

That was a single person within the company and it had nothing to do with a pervasive attitude throughout the business. It was instituted and judge on her situstion’s merits alone.
 
#10
Update:

I spoke with an employment law attorney with a large portfolio of discrimination wins. I explained the entire situation and went through the list of incidents and disparities. He said I definitely have a case, but that I had to give HR a chance to rectify the situation before I could go to the EEOC. I will be meeting with HR soon and will then update the attorney for further guidance.
 
#11
Update:

I spoke with an employment law attorney with a large portfolio of discrimination wins. I explained the entire situation and went through the list of incidents and disparities. He said I definitely have a case, but that I had to give HR a chance to rectify the situation before I could go to the EEOC. I will be meeting with HR soon and will then update the attorney for further guidance.
Your attorney told you exactly the same thing that cbg told you. Glad you spoke to a good attorney!
 
#13
Update

Best of luck to you. Let us know how it goes!

Sorry for the lag in a timely response. HR and my boss's boss did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Unless they've talked to him privately without telling me anything. Since then, another coworker went to HR about our boss as well. For different reasons than me (not discrimination-- just about being a horrible boss in general).

More things are going on now though. An incident arose this week where there was sensitive customer information sent outside of the company and ended up in the hands of a competing vendor. The incident actually happened 6 months ago. I was one of the people who received the email from the customer and forwarded it on to others within my company who needed the information for work purposes only. My boss asked me questions 6 months ago about it and I showed him all of my emails. No issues since I didn't have anything to hide. Well this past week I start getting questioned by my boss's boss about the situation. He had the nerve to ask me if I had given any info to my spouse because he works for a company who is another customer of ours. He insinuated that he knew the vendors involved and that they did business with my spouse (which was incorrect information. The other vendors involved do absolutely no work for my spouse.) I told him and HR that I do not discuss business with my spouse, which is the honest to God truth. I never want business to become a source of contention between my husband and I, which is why we have a rule to just not discuss it. But here's the real kicker: another fellow employee involved in the situation, who also had the customer information sent to him, also is married to someone who is employed by a company that's a customer to us.....but he was not questioned about his spouse. I feel like this is retaliation by management to try and push me out. Why would I be getting asked questions, but my coworkers are not, even when they have just as much skin in the situation as what I do? The funny part of the story isn't that the customer couldn't care less about the info that got out, and when I spoke to them a day after my questioning they told me the info was leaked on location (industrial setting) by field laborers! My company has all of my emails, and they can vividly see that it was sent to no one outside of the company.....so why the witch hunt?

Anyone have experience with situations like this? I called the attorney again and he said one more incident and it will be go-time.

Oh and one more thing, 2 weeks ago information was given to me about another product line forging documentation in the field for very serious jobs. Due to where it came from, I was forced to inform management, so I basically blew the whistle on a few people and a product line. The people forging documents still have jobs.....
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#14
To address your first point - you should not expect them to tell you what action was taken with regards to your boss. I'm sorry, I should have told you that above. They are not obligated to and for a number of reasons should not. It's never a good idea to discuss disciplinary actions with other employees, even if the other employee was directly involved in the incident that required the discipline. What action they take is not up to you and quite frankly is none of your business. What matters to you is, did the discriminating behavior stop? If so, they have fulfilled their obligation. If not, then you move on to the next step.

Now, that said, I tend to agree with your attorney. I'm not 100% convinced you have a claim of illegal retaliation but I'm sure as heck not ruling it out, either. If anything else happens, I would agree that it's time to go. Right now, I'd advise waiting and documenting.

(P.S. you still have a job as of right now, too.)

Keep us updated.
 
#15
To address your first point - you should not expect them to tell you what action was taken with regards to your boss. I'm sorry, I should have told you that above. They are not obligated to and for a number of reasons should not. It's never a good idea to discuss disciplinary actions with other employees, even if the other employee was directly involved in the incident that required the discipline. What action they take is not up to you and quite frankly is none of your business. What matters to you is, did the discriminating behavior stop? If so, they have fulfilled their obligation. If not, then you move on to the next step.

Now, that said, I tend to agree with your attorney. I'm not 100% convinced you have a claim of illegal retaliation but I'm sure as heck not ruling it out, either. If anything else happens, I would agree that it's time to go. Right now, I'd advise waiting and documenting.

(P.S. you still have a job as of right now, too.)

Keep us updated.

Hi CBG,

Another manager was turned into HR in January, but HR had both the manager and the employee sit down together to kind of talk things out; so I figured that would happen in my situation, too. I totally understand that they can't tell me if they take any disciplinary action against him.
 
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