The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a direct action on behalf of 34 women against Workplace Staffing Solutions, LLC alleging that the company denied the women the opportunity to become temporary residential trashcan collectors (i.e. “garbage
menpersons”) along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
In the Complaint, the EEOC states that women answered ads for garbage collector positions, but were told by the temporary staffing company that the position was “male only” and that such a requirement should have been included in the ad. The class of 34 women either applied for garbage collector positions with the staffing company and were denied, or were deterred from applying at all due to their gender. The Complaint further alleges that the staffing company hired over 100 trashcan collectors in two months in 2012, and that all of those hired were males. The Complaint seeks injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages.
In a press release, the EEOC stated that “Employers are not allowed to presume that women would not be interested in or capable of performing certain types of jobs.” The EEOC noted that it is focusing on companies that may make decisions based upon gender stereotypes.
This suit is a good warning to companies who should avoid using any types of stereotypes in describing positions or discussing hiring—whether it be age, gender or whatever. Just because the position traditionally is referred to as “garbageman,” doesn’t mean that the stereotype should flow over into employment practices. In fact, it is probably safest to revise such gender-specific job titles and migrate to garbage collector, sales associate, firefighter, etc. The suit also illustrates the EEOC’s more aggressive litigation stance in the Southern region.