A group of male employees of Archie Comics filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against their employer. They allege, among other things, that Nancy Silberkleit, the company’s co-CEO, constantly referred to them by their male anatomy instead of by name.
In her defense, Silberkleit claims that she cannot be liable because “white men” are not a class protected from discrimination.
Rest assured, that defense is a loser. Title VII does not just protect minorities from discrimination. It protects all employees from discrimination. Thus, a male employee enjoys the same rights as a female employee to a workplace free from discrimination, just as a white employee has the same rights a black employee. An employer cannot treat men differently than women, or whites differently than blacks, and the disparately affected and marginalized class (whether or not a historical minority) has a claim.
My advice to Nancy Silberkleit? Abandon your defense, get out your checkbook, and take some Equal Employment Opportunity training.
Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Hyman at (216) 736-7226 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Hyman on Twitter at @jonhyman.