“I felt vindicated,” says Osorio. “I didn’t file the case for a reward; I filed the case because I was wronged and I was fired and it was really hard for me to deal with that at the time, but what they were doing to me was wrong and I just couldn’t let it go.”
The activities that took place at The Source violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on color, race, religion, national origin or sex, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which aims to close the wage gap between males and females. According to the EEOC report released last month, workplace discrimination filings hit a record high of nearly 100,000 in 2010. Retaliation led the list as the most frequent allegation; 29% of those filings were claims based on sex.
Oftentimes gender discrimination is framed as a “female issue,” however; males can face the same issues in the workplace. In fact, both Wilks-Sing and Kenneth L. Johnson—President of East Coast Executives, a Philadelphia based-staffing firm—can recall instances were males were not considered for specific positions and treated differently due to their sex.
Wilks-Sing recalls one man’s allegations, where he felt his female manager had it out for all males on the team and often talked down to them. “He alleged that she gave the females special privileges that the men on the team did not get,” says the Deleware-based HR professional.
Although he never complied, following company standards, Johnson recalls similar instances where owners and chief executive officers encouraged him “off the record” to recruit females for front-desk and administrative positions. “They’d prefer there be a female face when people walk through the door.” He also notes he’s encountered just the opposite—clients who want to ensure by any means they add more male staffers to a mostly female team.
Wilks-Sing acknowledges that while there might be misunderstandings and conflicts taking place in the office, companies should offer conflict resolution in addition to their existing policies and procedures. “Employees should feel comfortable and not fear retaliation for reporting claims to their advocate,” she says. “If a company decides to turn a deaf ear, they should be prepared to deal with the legal implications.”
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