Recently, a North Carolina adult store was sued over alleged gender discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit in District Court on behalf of Christopher Kilby, against the parent holding company that runs Adam & Eve, a popular chain of adult stores. This may have interesting ramifications for employment law.
Gender Discrimination at Adam & Eve
Sex/gender discrimination claims are some of the most common that are filed with the EEOC. It is the opinion of the EEOC that gender identity discrimination also falls under this particular category. The theory is that discriminating against someone based on their gender identity is, just like sex discrimination, inherently based in a set of gender stereotypes and a refusal to fulfill them or abide by them, so neither is acceptable.
Mr. Kilby applied for sales positions in North and South Carolina stores, but was denied each time, being advised that men were only hired for receiving and unpacking positions. Sales floor positions at Adam & Eve were being advertised at the time as requiring only a high school diploma, retail experience, and a flexible schedule—all of which Mr. Kilby had. However, he was denied, while a cumulative total of eight women were hired at the stores where he applied. This is why the adult store was sued over alleged gender discrimination.
Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications
Mr. Kilby alleges that Adam & Eve’s parent company chose to willfully ignore the “federally protected rights” of he and other “similarly situated” male applicants by hiring women only for their sales floor positions. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any kind of negative employment action based on sex or gender, including hiring, firing, promotion, wage increases, and the like. This applies to both applicants and employees.
In the past, cases like this have been settled by the defendant corporation claiming what is known as a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). This suggests that the business in question must discriminate on the basis of certain characteristics that are “reasonably necessary” to the company’s normal operation. Adam & Eve could, in theory, argue that hiring women only for sales positions is a bona fide occupational qualification because there are people who would not feel safe being waited on by a man. However, such a determination would be up to the court to accept or reject.
Call An Employment Discrimination Attorney Today
While the outcome of Mr. Kilby’s suit has yet to be determined, if you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your sex or gender identity, contacting an experienced employment discrimination lawyer is a good first step to determine your options. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience in these cases, and is happy to try and help you with yours. Contact Hitchcock & Potts today to speak to an attorney.