Glass Ceiling

Skilled Legal Representation in Atlanta on Employment Discrimination Matters

The “glass ceiling” is a metaphor traditionally referencing the barrier that often prevents women from employment advancement. The phrase is also sometimes used in references to the same type of discrimination against minorities. Despite increased diversity over the last several years, the glass ceiling remains a serious issue in corporate America. It is unlawful for an employer to prevent a person’s advancement based on sex, race, color, religion or national origin. If you have a legal issue involving employment discrimination in the Atlanta area, Parks, Chesin & Walbert can help you.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Under Title VII, it is illegal for employers with at least 15 employees to discriminate in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on sex, color, religion, race, or national origin. It is also unlawful for such an employer not to hire an employee based on membership in one of those protected classes. Furthermore, an employer may not limit, segregate, or classify employees or job applicants based on those reasons in a way that would tend to deprive individuals of employment opportunities. Thus, if an employer with at least 15 employees prevents an employee from advancement based on sex, color, religion, race, or national origin, it has unlawfully discriminated against that person.

Pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1604.3, an employer may not classify jobs as “male” or “female.” Employers may not have separate lines of progression or seniority lists that would adversely affect an employee, unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification of the job. Furthermore, it is also unlawful to use a seniority system or line of progression that distinguishes between “light” and “heavy” jobs to disguise sex-based classification or that unreasonably prevents members of either sex from advancing into jobs that they could reasonably perform.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is charged with enforcing Title VII. An employee who wishes to pursue a claim under Title VII must first file a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the discrimination. Failure to file a timely EEOC complaint will result in the claim being barred.

Disparate Treatment and Disparate Impact

Glass ceiling discrimination cases can be based on either disparate treatment or disparate impact. Disparate treatment occurs when a person is treated differently because of membership in one of the protected classes.

Disparate impact cases are cases in which the employer’s policies are not facially discriminatory, but they have a discriminatory effect. Examples of practices that may result in disparate impact include physical or strength tests or educational requirements that are not related to the job. Proving disparate impact may require statistical proof of how the practice has affected members of the protected class. Once a disparate impact has been shown, the burden shifts to the employer to show that the practice was related to the job and consistent with business necessity.

Remedies available in a glass ceiling discrimination case may include hiring, back pay, front pay, compensatory, and punitive damages. The remedies available in a particular case will be determined by the specific facts of that case.

Consult an Atlanta Attorney for Your Employment Law Issue

Atlanta lawyers at Parks, Chesin & Walbert are skilled in sex discrimination matters and other employment law issues. If you believe your career opportunities have been limited by the glass ceiling, we can help you. Call 404-873-8048 or contact us online.

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