RE: Protected Class: Sex Case
Main Discussion Post:
Post a brief summary of the discrimination case/instance you selected and how the events impacted the individual(s) and/or the work environment
There is a significant history documenting efforts made by the court to assist in protecting the rights of individuals seeking or active in employment. Prejudices based upon the color of ones’ skin, race, sex, religion, or national origin were not protected until 1964, with the adoption of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VII affirms it to be illegal to discriminate based on these prejudices (Lussier & Hendon, 2018). In this weeks’ discussion, I will be focusing on the potential sex discrimination federal case of Cooper v. United Airlines. In this case, Drucilla Cooper, a United employee since 1997, filed an action against United, stating her initial pay unjustifiably, gender-based salary disparities in violation of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C on June 31, 2013 (Center for Workplace Compliance, 2019).
Ms. Cooper’s salary earnings were impactful in her life as she felt them unfair in comparison to two other male employees, Knight and Del Campo (previously same duties) after United merged with Continental Airlines in 2010 and company restructuring began. When an organization transitions in structure the complexity of its origin alters and can cause communication barriers, thus employee insecurity and trust issues (Lussier & Hendon, 2018). Ms. Cooper also expressed changes in her cultural assumptions (salary assumption). She may have felt threatened when she and the other two male employees were required to reapply for the new position under a post-master talent selection process (Center for Workplace Compliance, 2019). Ms. Cooper ended up not being selected, but Knight, Del Campo, and a different male employee were. She then reverted to one of her first positions at United (Security Officer) at a significantly less salary amount. Feelings of disappointment, failure, sadness, and anger would now be running through my mind. Ms. Cooper must have also had some resentment as her next move was filing an action.
Describe the key legal issues involved and explain how Title VII legislation applied.
One critical legal issue correlating with Cooper v. United is the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) which “prohibits employers from paying men and women working at the same establishment and in the same job different rates of pay because of sex” (Center for Workplace Compliance, 2019, p. 8). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is another vital law in sex discriminations. According to FLSA, employers are prohibited from pay differences for employees conducting equal work on the basis of sex (Center for Workplace Compliance, 2019). Title VII legislation applied to both key legal issues as they are components of equal rights for women (sex). Moreover, both examples express disparate treatment (Lussier & Hendon, 2018).
Discuss at least one strategy you would employ in an effort to mitigate this type of discrimination from occurring in your unit, department, or organization.
After reviewing Cooper v. United, it was evident thorough and detailed policies, especially gender-neutral compensation policies, applied and mitigated consistently for every employee is a critical strategy to eliminate legal ramifications (Ms. Cooper lost her case). “United’s well-documented, gender-neutral compensation policies, which were applied consistently to all employees – including Cooper’s male comparators…rested on sound and common business practice, and thus constituted a factor other than sex” (Center for Workplace Compliance, 2019, p. 18). It is not only pivotal to have descriptive and consistent policies but to ensure employees understand them and offer an environment fostering questions and explanation sessions. Robust justifying strategies to eliminate legal issues include policy development, grievance handling procedures, and awareness training (Cogin & Fish, 2009).
Center for Workplace Compliance. (2019). Cooper v. United Airlines. Retrieved from www.cwc.org/CWC/PublicationPages/Legal_Briefs.aspx.
Cogin, J., & Fish, A. (2009). Sexual harassment – A touchy subject for nurses. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 23(4), 442-462. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
Lussier, R. N., & Hendon, J. R. (2018). Human resource management: Functions, applications, & skill development (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.