Almost all gender discrimination lawsuits in California are filed by women. It’s well-established that women as a whole are offered less prestigious jobs, are paid less, promoted less and are targeted more frequently for sexual harassment.
So is it ever valid for a male employee to file a gender discrimination claim? Before you roll your eyes at the notion, consider first of all that discrimination against a man simply because of their gender is just as illegal as if the roles are reversed. Now consider the case recently filed in Federal District Court in San Jose against Yahoo.
The former Yahoo manager lost his job after the company came under the direction of female chief executive Marissa Mayer. In his complaint, he alleges the quarterly performance review favored by Mayer is discriminatory against men. The process requires superiors to rank every worker on a scale of 1 to 5. Those ratings were integral in the firing of hundreds of workers since Mayer took over in 2012. Workers with the lowest of those rankings were routinely trimmed from the roles.
Plaintiff worked in the company’s media division, but was fired in late 2014. He asserts that females in senior positions regularly and subjectively rated male employers lower than female employees – even when the male workers had historically better work performance.
Further, he asserts that even when women workers got the same low scores as the men (anything under a 3 was considered termination-worthy), the men would be cut loose while the women kept their jobs.
In one case, he noted both a male and female worker received a 1.8 rating. The male worker was fired, while the female worker was promoted to the male’s former position. What’s more, the woman was allowed to appeal her rating, while the man was not.
If these allegations are true, it would be a very clear indication of gender discrimination.
As further proof, plaintiff noted the tenure of the chief marketing executive, whom plaintiff said almost exclusively hired women. When she started, the top executives reporting to her were fewer than 20 percent women. Over the course of just three years, that number ballooned to more than 80 percent.
Plaintiff, who worked in the company’s media division, received word of his layoff while he was attending a journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan. He was attending the program as a journalist representing the company.
Although it may seem strange that a man would file a claim for gender discrimination, it’s important to point out that per Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – as well as under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act – discrimination on the basis of one’s sex is illegal. It does not matter whether the individual making the claim is male, female or transgender.
The primary question in the case is going to be: Was the adverse action taken in whole or in significant part based on gender?
It’s an interesting case because gender bias and lack of diversity skewed against women in the tech world has been widely derided. However, as technology firms seek to rectify this, they need to be cautious that they aren’t discriminating against men simply on the basis of their gender.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
A Yahoo Employee-Ranking System Favored by Marissa Mayer is Challenged in Court, Feb. 1, 2016, By Vindu Goel, The New York Times
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California Considering New Regulations to Prevent Workplace Violence Among Healthcare Workers, Jan. 11, 2016, Orange County Gender Bias Lawyer Blog