gender discrimination

Jennifer Lawrence Brings Attention to Equal Pay

Actress Jennifer Lawrence has been particularly vocal lately, speaking out on the pay disparity between actors and actresses.  Her complaint is nothing new, as there generally is a wage gap between men and women.  If a woman is being paid less than a man in the same position, she has a claim under federal law, pursuant to the Equal Pay Act.  The Equal Pay Act allows a plaintiff to reach back two years to recover the wage differential, and three years if it is willful.  Additionally, an aggrieved party may be able to recover liquidated damages, which is twice the amount of the wage differential.  Liquidated damages are presumed under the law.  Further, a plaintiff may recover attorney's fees if she is successful at trial.

Female Employee Sues Chicago White Sox for Sexual Discrimination

A woman who formerly worked for the Chicago White Sox filed a lawsuit alleging that the team and Major League Baseball discriminated against her when she was passed over for promotions because of her gender.  Deborah Theobald, the 33 year old woman, claimed that her work performance was outstanding, but nonetheless, she was passed over for upper management positions.  According to her suit, the woman claimed that when she applied for the job of manager of partnerships in 2004, a less qualified male was promoted.  The woman's lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County.  Ms. Theobald, in her suit, claimed that the White Sox and the MLB promoted "the glass ceiling and intentional sexual discriminatory policies and practices."  The plaintiff quit her job in June, 2010.

Supreme Court Tosses Class Action Case

On June 20, 2011, the nation's high court reversed a federal appeals court in a widely anticipated employment decision, Wal-Mart, Inc. v. Dukes.  In the decision, the Supreme Court overturned the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certifying a class of approximately 1.5 million women across the country.  The women sued Wal-Mart, the country's largest private employer, alleging that they were discriminated against on the basis of pay, promotions and other employment practices.  Though the women lost class action status, they can still pursue their individual sexual discrimination claims individually. Speaking for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia stated that class-action claims like these are doomed without "convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy."  The President of the National Employers Asssociation, NELA, stated that "Today's judgment will make discrimination more prevalent unless Congress acts to reverse yet another misguided opinion by the Court."