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Men Are Entitled To Protection From Sex Discrimination

In the world of employment law, it is fairly uncommon to see discrimination cases that are based on discrimination against men but a recent case brought by the EEOC raises just that claim. According to the EEOC's suit, in the spring of 2013, the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain posted an internal announcement within a 10-state region for temporary summer positions in Park City, Utah with company-provided housing for those selected. Andrew Herrera, a Ruby Tuesday employee since 2005 in Corvallis, Ore., wanted to apply because of the chance to earn more money in the busy summer resort town. However, the announcement stated that only females would be considered and Ruby Tuesday did in fact selected only women for those summer jobs, supposedly from fears about housing employees of both genders together. Ruby Tuesday's gender-specific internal posting excluded Herrera and at least one other male employee from consideration for the temporary assignment.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from giving more advantageous terms and conditions of employment to one group of individuals based on gender. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (Case No. 15-CV-109) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of Herrera and class members, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices throughout the 10-state region, and other injunctive relief.

"It's rare to see an explicit example of sex discrimination like Ruby Tuesday's internal job announcement," noted EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. "This suit is a cautionary tale to employers that sex-based employment decisions are rarely justified, and are not consistent with good business judgment."

Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said that "Mr. Herrera was a longtime employee of Ruby Tuesday who had regularly trained new hires at the Corvallis restaurant. He was shocked and angered that Ruby Tuesday would categorically exclude him and other male employees from a lucrative summer assignment based purely on stereotypes about his gender. The company could have addressed any real privacy concerns by providing separate housing units for each gender in Park City, but chose an unlawful option instead."

It will be interesting to see where this ends up.

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