One Set of Rules for Men and a Different Set of Rules for Women
Having company policies that discriminate between men and women can be lethal for an employer in today’s work environment. If you haven’t had an attorney review your employee handbook or policies in recent times, it would be wise to do so.
Recent Lawsuit Filed by the EEOC Against the New Orleans Saints
The New York Times published an article about how an Instagram post led to the EEOC’s discrimination lawsuit brought on behalf of a cheerleader against the New Orleans Saints. Saints officials fired Bailey Davis based on an Instagram post where she wore a one-piece outfit. They also conducted an inquiry about her attending a party where a Saints player was present. Davis denies being at the party. However, the scope of this case goes beyond wrongful termination and challenges the team’s policies by alleging a double standard for female and male employees.
Are different rules for men and women discriminatory?
Saints officials put an anti-fraternization policy in place to protect against domestic violence and sexual harassment among players and league employees. The following are the rules that the plaintiff alleges are discriminatory:
Cheerleaders must block players from following them on social media and cannot post photos where they are wearing Saints gear. No such rules exist for the team’s players. Many players use pseudonyms on social media and yet it is the cheerleader’s responsibility to discover this and block them.
Cheerleaders are penalized for pursuing engagement with players while players are not penalized for pursuing engagement with cheerleaders.
Cheerleaders are told not to dine in the same restaurant as players and not to speak to them in any detail. A cheerleader who enters a restaurant and sees a player is dining there must leave. If she is already dining in a restaurant and a player arrives afterward to dine, then she must leave. The same rule does not apply to players.
While the handbook rules aim to protect female employees against sexual harassment, the plaintiff alleges that the burden of avoidance is entirely placed on the females and that it has a harsher impact on them than the male employees.
An arbitration hearing will precede the lawsuit to see if a settlement can be reached.
If the case goes to trial, the court will have to decide where the fine line should be drawn between anti-harassment policies and discrimination.
Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to answer your questions and provide legal guidance or representation in disputed employment issues.