Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Les Schwab Named in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Tire retailer Les Schwab has close to 400 centers across the country, including in California. The retailer is now being named in a gender discrimination lawsuit just filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington.

The lawsuit has been brought by Jennifer Strange and Meagan Morris, who allege that the company used discriminatory practices to keep women out of higher positions. Both Morris and Strange had worked at several Les Schwab outlets in Washington. When they requested work in the tire bays, they were repeatedly refused, allegedly because of their gender. These jobs typically involve handling tires, including mounting, dismounting and repairing tires, and are usually the steppingstone for more lucrative management positions at the company. However, women were never considered for tire bay jobs, ensuring that they never made it to the higher positions at the company.

The company seems to have a long-standing position of discriminating against women. In 50 years, only one woman has made it to a sales and management position at Les Schwab. According to the San Francisco district director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Les Schwab has a corporate culture that promotes differences between men and women and the kind of jobs that they can do. The founder of the company even published a book that defined how men can expect to get ahead in the company, and promotes the idea that men can do certain jobs and women can only do others.

To the rest of the world, it may seem strange, and even quaint, that in this day and age, when women have broken so many glass ceilings, they're considered incapable of mounting a tire, and refused more lucrative employment on this basis. However, for a California employment lawyer, it’s routine to come across such cases of gender discrimination, where corporate doors are shut to female employees beyond a certain point. There is no place for such discrimination in California. Our laws don't allow it, and companies cannot be permitted to promote such practices without accountability.

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