Today’s lesson on what not to do comes from a case filed against a healthcare firm by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, details for which can be found in the the EEOC's announcement of a settlement against Maryland-based Dimensions Healthcare System.
In this case, Cassandra Crawford, a woman with 7 years experience at Dimensions, including 2 years of team leadership experience, took maternity leave from January-April 2014. In October 2014, a lesser-qualified male employee was promoted to a management position despite only having 2 years of entry-level experience. When Crawford inquired about this decision, she was told that part of the decision-making process included the fact that Crawford had been “on maternity leave for a while.”
The EEOC filed suit against Dimensions after unsuccessfully trying to settle the matter. The court denied Dimension’s motion for summary judgment after finding that the statement about Crawford taking maternity leave could be used to show sex bias under Title VII. In addition to this statement, the court also considered Crawford’s higher qualifications, as well as some prior allegations of gender discrimination made against Dimensions. In addition to a $125,000 award to Crawford, Dimensions is also required to make a clearer policy regarding its standards against pregnancy and other gender biases in terms of promotion decisions.
The takeaway here is that gender discrimination is against the law, and that violating this rule could have serious implications for your practice. If you have any questions as to whether your practice’s policies against gender discrimination need to be modified, you should consult a qualified employment law attorney or your HR services provider.