What Men Need to Know About Sex Discrimination Laws: They Are Protected, Too
Usually when people think about sex discrimination, they think about discrimination against women. After all, most sex discrimination laws were enacted in order to alleviate discrimination against women who enter the workforce. However, while women may be the most obvious beneficiaries of these laws, men are protected by them as well. The same provisions, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, that prohibit discrimination against a woman for being a woman also prohibit discriminating against a man for being a man.
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Ruby Tuesday Accused of Discriminating Against Men
One example of how men are protected by sex discrimination laws is currently playing out and it involves the popular restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday. The Washington Post reports that the chain is facing a civil rights lawsuit because it is alleged to have discriminated against male job candidates. The lawsuit alleges that male employees were not allowed to participate in a “lucrative” work assignment because of their sex.
The job opportunity was a temporary work assignment that involved working as seasonal bartenders or servers in a resort town called Park City, Utah. Unlike most service positions, the employees who were selected for these positions were provided with housing in the resort town, making the job opportunity quite appealing.
When Ruby Tuesday announced the job opening to its employees in several states, it was up front with its position that only female candidates could apply. Ultimately, the restaurant gave the positions for the 2013 year exclusively to women. Now a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of two men who believe they were discriminated against. Ruby Tuesday’s alleged excuse for its preference for female applicants is that it wanted to avoid having to find separate housing for both men and women.
So What About Restaurants Like Hooters?
While Ruby Tuesday may seem unique in that it was so open about its position that it would not consider men for this particular position, there are certainly other restaurants that have done similar things and been allowed to do so. Take, for example, Hooters or other similar restaurants that base their business around their employees looking and dressing in a certain manner.
The EEOC actually challenged these hiring practices back in the 1990s. Hooters defended their hiring practices by saying that being an attractive woman was a bona fide occupational qualification for their waitresses because their primary purpose was not to serve food, it was to provide a form of sexual entertainment. The suit wound up settling out of court when Hooters agreed to hire men in other positions like as bartenders and hosts, as it’s unclear whether the courts would have agreed with Hooters’ argument.
Airlines tried making a similar argument to keep the flight attendant profession exclusively female, but men were able to win those cases.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you know a man who has been discriminated against at work because of his sex? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.
Dan Kalish is a partner and founder of HKM Employment Lawyers (www.hkm.com), an employment law firm that represents individuals nationwide. A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, Dan frequently speaks and writes about issues related to employment law on hkm.com/employmentblog.