Gender Based Hiring Decisions? Really?

A sales manager recently started a peculiar discussion on a leading automotive industry message board and blog when he asked community members to provide feedback on their experiences with hiring female Internet Sales Managers and the work habits of these particular employees. The respondents were all too willing to navigate this veritable minefield. One vendor stated that “this should explain my thoughts when it comes to hiring women” and provided a link to his company’s webpage, which showed that only 3 of the 33 employees were men. Another came from a General Manager of a dealership, who wrote, “our female [Business Development Center] agents substantially out performed their male counterparts…I will not hire a male for this all important role ever again.”

 A Google search turned up similar articles and discussions on the topic of hiring women for sales positions at dealerships. One such article, posted on AskPatty titled “Women in the Car Business; Their Time has Come!” describes efforts that the author, as a representative of AskPatty, has undertaken to increase employment of women in the automotive industry. These efforts included aiding dealerships with hiring female salespeople “through sites such as Career Builders and Monster.Com” and paying “special consideration” to female applicants.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unlawful for businesses to make hiring decisions regarding new employees in ways that discriminate because of applicants’ race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), and national origin. This includes relying on stereotypes or assumptions based on applicants’ classification in one of the above-referenced groups. If your business shows similar hiring preferences, and employ more than 15 people, you may violate the law. You cannot claim, in defense of a preferential hiring practice contrary to Title VII that you intended to rectify past societal wrongs or wished to diversify your workforce. Constitutional law is quite clear; it is not the role of the private employer to craft “affirmative action” programs.

If your business is currently utilizing hiring practices that favor one class of person over the other, please seek legal advice on whether your practices violate state or federal law.  Your well-meaning intentions to diversify the composition of your staff to reflect the buying public could lead to serious legal troubles.   

*Image courtesy of Car Deal Expert*

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