What are my rights if the HR manager in charge of temp workers at a factory is treating men and women recruits differently?

Both genders have applied for the same job with the same description. When we met with him to determine our uniform size, he only asked for my pants size. He did not ask me to try on a smock. All the women were asked to try on a smock. I asked him why do the women not have to wear pants and why I am not being sized for a smock, and he said because he would be assigning me to much more physical work, such as sanitation. The job description is for a packager of cookies at a plant. He is completely treating me differently from the women who applied for the exact same job because my gender is male. Do I have any legal recourse?

Asked on October 10, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you may have legal recourse it is illegal to treat the two genders differently, except in narrow cases where a job legitimately requires different treatment e.g. a restroom or locker-room attendent. An employer can set non-gender-based criteria which may tend to screen out one gender, but if the criteria are valid to the job, then this is not a violation e.g. fire departments require that recruits be able to carry a certain minimum amount of weight, which will screen out more women than men, because on average, women tend to be physically smaller and not able to lift as much--but the important thing is in that case, any woman who can make the cut get ths job the fired department does not simply arbitrarily assume that the job is "physical" and must go to a man.
In your case, that's what the manager apparently did made any arbitrary gender-based decision without regard to objective criteria and where there is no need for a job to be male or female. This may be a violation of the law.
However, it may or may not entitle you to meaningful compensation if you are being paid as much or more than your female colleagues, then even though what was done may be illegal, you would not have been injured in a signficant economic way and thus would likely not recover much compensation in a legal action.
You may wish to contact your state's equal/civil rights agency, explain the situation, and ask them if they agree this is improper and, if so, what you might be entitled to for comensation you can then decide whether to file a complaint or not. You could also discuss the situation in detail with an employment law attorney, to see what he/she thinks the case might be worth.

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