Join 3,376 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


To whom should I report an employer that hires by gender?
May 4, 2012 8:14 AM   Subscribe

An Oregon-based employer is posting job ads that explicitly seek workers only of a specific gender, when gender is clearly not relevant to the job. Should I report this to someone, and to whom?

My state Attorney General seems to only accept consumer complaints, and I've never done business with this employer. U.S. EEOC complaints seem to be for people discriminated against, and are complicated to file. I have no interested in the job being posted, and am of the preferred gender even if I did. Is there any way to submit a tip -- ideally anonymous, but I'll use my name if I must -- just to alert the appropriate enforcement body to what is happening here?
posted by croutonsupafreak to Law & Government (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you positive that gender isn't relevant? Could you post the listing?
posted by 200burritos at 8:16 AM on May 4, 2012


An Oregon-based employer is posting job ads that explicitly seek workers only of a specific gender, when gender is clearly not relevant to the job.

Says who? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

I have no interested in the job being posted, and am of the preferred gender even if I did.

This means you don't really have standing to pursue this. Courts and most administrative agencies won't really look at issues raised by people who are not directly and immediately affected by allegedly problematic conduct. You can't just bring a claim or case for generalized misbehavior that doesn't affect you.

Let it go. You don't know enough about it to really know whether the ad is inappropriate or not, and even if it were, you aren't being affected by it, which will significantly undermine any attempt to get attention from enforcement agencies.
posted by valkyryn at 8:23 AM on May 4, 2012


It's a listing for a reporting/writing job covering both men and women in athletics.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:25 AM on May 4, 2012


I was just writing a less elegant post than valkyryn and I agree with him comletely
posted by rmhsinc at 8:25 AM on May 4, 2012


And I should add: It's a writing job, so this is not a television or radio position.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:26 AM on May 4, 2012


Could it be a question of access (to locker rooms etc)? I don't know anything about the legalities, etc. but unless you're positive that gender really has nothing to do with it you may not get very far.
posted by Kimberly at 8:28 AM on May 4, 2012


If it's a reporter who may need tO interview players in a locker room, gender may certainly be relevant.
posted by phunniemee at 8:29 AM on May 4, 2012


I was just thinking locker room access; perhaps they already have a writer of the opposite gender so they just need to fill in one side of this.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:29 AM on May 4, 2012


Why not write a letter to the employer? They could either explain the rationale or change the post to be gender neutral. Depending on the response you could write a short editorial to the local newspaper.
posted by unreasonable at 8:31 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone not involved, based on what looks like the relevant Oregon Law (see sections 839-005-0005 and 839-005-0010) it doesn't look like you have any way to complain.
posted by helicomatic at 8:32 AM on May 4, 2012


EEOC on sex based discrimination:
The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

The EEOC Online Assesment Tool helps you determine if your complaint is relevant to them.

The EEOC has a page with instructions on how to file a complaint.

You would generally complain to a field office. Here are all the field offices.
posted by jsturgill at 8:34 AM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Most of the teams that this person would write about are male, and the ad seeks a woman, so the locker room issue is moot. I know both men and women in nearly identical jobs to the one described.

However, if I don't have standing then I suppose I have to shake my head, grumble a bit, and move on.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:35 AM on May 4, 2012


The EEOC is federal and applies to any business in any state, even private ones, in the US that have more than 15 employees. See more here.

I am so not a lawyer, so enjoy at least one grain of salt with these links.
posted by jsturgill at 8:35 AM on May 4, 2012


The writing gig could be "Sports from a woman's point of view," or a million other takes that would require a woman to write it. I think without a full job description, you just can't know, but to settle your mind, you could contact the employer and ask why it's specifically geared towards women.
posted by xingcat at 8:39 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's the text of the ad, posted under the headline "Female sportswriters needed":

Are you a journalist or a columnist? Are you a blogger or a message board junkie? Are you a true Oregon sports fan? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you can write for [Employer]. Because of the popularity of [Employer], your columns will be seen by literally thousands of sports fans around this great state. We also have partnered with several media websites, including [Partners]. Our columns have been seen on all of these outlets.

All we ask from you is to submit at least one original, insightful, and consistent column per week. The column must have something to do with Oregon ([examples of Oregon teams here]) or SW Washington ([examples of Washington teams here]). We also recommend submitting articles that are not time sensitive. A column about last night's Timbers game will get a lot less exposure than a column about whether John Spencer should be fired.

To apply, please submit a writing sample or two. Also, tell us a little about yourself.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:43 AM on May 4, 2012


It could be that they have dozens, if not hundreds, of male applicants, and they think they need to recruit women. That's a feature not a bug.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:46 AM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, did they also have a "Male sportswriters needed" ad? Since that's the headline for the posting, they could be doing separate ads to try to attract more people to the job.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:47 AM on May 4, 2012


I would send an email to Craigslist or the newspaper. Also -- okay to say something like "female writers particularly encouraged to apply" and to recruit, consider, and then hire a qualified female writer as part of, say, a marketing/outreach scheme to increase readership. Not permitted to actually limit job to females applicants.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:52 AM on May 4, 2012


Could it be that they want to attract more women readers and reach a different audience?
posted by infini at 9:01 AM on May 4, 2012


[Please keep answers on-topic and follow-ups to those necessary to answer the question, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:01 AM on May 4, 2012


Go for it, report it to the eeoc, the state ag, and the publication.
posted by yarly at 9:02 AM on May 4, 2012


You seem to have omitted an important piece of information. From the website in question:

We do not pay our writers with money. Instead, we pay them with great exposure, guidance, and fun. Was that lame? Yeah, probably. But seriously, if you love sports and you love to write, you will have fun being a writer for Oregon Sports News. We often have prize giveaways for outstanding work.

So, the website in question is not looking to "employ" anyone. They are soliciting contributions of content for their website, and therefore are free to solicit it from whomever they choose.
posted by DWRoelands at 9:03 AM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thanks for noting that, DWRoelands. As I found it listed on a website for journalists seeking paying work, perhaps I should email the site's managers and seek to have the post removed that way.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:05 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


perhaps I should email the site's managers and seek to have the post removed that way.

Why? Because you disagree with their right to solicit volunteer content from whomever they choose?
posted by DWRoelands at 9:06 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


DoubleLune: No, this is the only ad posted.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:06 AM on May 4, 2012


Here's the same ad, but without any gender specified.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:07 AM on May 4, 2012


FWIW, you need standing to file a lawsuit, but you may not need standing to file a complaint with an enforcement agency and you certainly don't need standing to provide a tip.

You could also raise the issue with an advocacy organization in the state working on discrimination issues. Of course, given the fact that the add discriminates against males, it might be hard to get traction there.
posted by alms at 9:08 AM on May 4, 2012


Uh, I vehemently disagree with those suggesting that this is not a complaint-worthy offense. Gender discrimination is illegal, and it really doesn't make a difference if the employer is looking to 'balance' their workforce gender or something.

I believe that the Oregon State Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), Civil Rights Division is the correct place to make a complaint. Complaint process and questionnaire is here.

For the record, The Federal Fair Housing Act is quite clear that it is also illegal to refuse to rent to someone based on their sex or gender. I know people do this all the time, and it's a very common violation of the Fair Housing Act, but that doesn't make it less illegal.
posted by Kpele at 9:11 AM on May 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


Could the listing be I-9 related?
When a person from another country is applying for a job that involves a work visa, the employer has to make a token listing to prove that an equivalent American citizen can't do the job.
Usually they make the listing just appealing enough to be ignored.

Maybe a foreign woman applied for the position, and they are just doing this as a matter of protocol? That is, they don't actually want to hire someone else.
posted by jozxyqk at 9:18 AM on May 4, 2012


Update: I just received a response from the folks behind the ad, who apologized and promised to take down the gendered versions that they have posted online. With that response, I see no need to escalate this further.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:43 AM on May 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


Nice work. Thank you for following up and getting it right. That ad was blatant gender discrimination, and it's good to have it removed. Thanks.
posted by Capri at 11:16 AM on May 4, 2012


For the record, The Federal Fair Housing Act is quite clear that it is also illegal to refuse to rent to someone based on their sex or gender. I know people do this all the time, and it's a very common violation of the Fair Housing Act, but that doesn't make it less illegal.

A bit of a derail, but since it came up here, this isn't always true. The Fair Housing Act doesn't apply in this case to "an owner who owns four units or less and lives in one unit." In other words, a woman can generally select only a female roommate. You can't advertise that you'll only accept women unless you're actually sharing living space like a bathroom or a kitchen. Craigslist has a pretty good guide to the basics of this stuff. State laws and your mileage may vary, IANAL, this is not legal advice, etc...
posted by zachlipton at 12:12 PM on May 4, 2012


I know this has mostly been resolved, but one thing to keep in mind if you see this sort of thing in the future is that if you aren't sure you're looking at the only job listing for a given position, it's hard to be sure that you know what the heck they're doing. They might be multi-variate testing different headlines/subject lines. They might be showing "male" versions on one site and "female" on another based on some sort of logic.

If you look at recruitment (and I guess mostly with large orgs or orgs with a mandate to grow really fast) as being about using a bunch of different tactics to shake out as many resumes as possible--wherein the in-person interview, references, and other selection processes are where the judgment, insight, and fairness come into play--the whole thing looks different. If you're placing dozens of adds hoping to net hundreds of decent applicants, it starts to make more and more sense to go further afield in any one single ad.

For example, if my mandate in filling a position is to meet with diverse candidates, it would be a bad strategy to only attend a job fair at an Historically Black College. However, that exact job fair could be a very strong PART of a plan that also includes other institutions.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:40 PM on May 4, 2012


I know this has mostly been resolved, but one thing to keep in mind if you see this sort of thing in the future is that if you aren't sure you're looking at the only job listing for a given position, it's hard to be sure that you know what the heck they're doing.

As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter how many other listings there are, nor what they say, you're not allowed discriminatory job advertisements. Your recruitment strategy could be, say, to send a recruiter to the local association of female sports journalists to impress upon them that your company is receptive to hiring women. You might (I can't tell, though I presume you can) be able to use the NSF's language and say that 'women and members of underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply'. But neither of those things is saying you want to hire women specifically.

See, for example, this Q&A from the EEOC, the DOJ's best practices and some case studies on some random website for small business owners. (I think the rules on age discrimination originate in a different place than those on sex discrimination.)
posted by hoyland at 5:14 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


« Older Need help finding the perfect ...   |  Please help identify this bug:... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.