Articles Posted in Executive Discrimination

Yarelyn Mena and Owen H. Laird

When the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the right for same-sex couples to marry, the LGBT community won a long and hard-fought battle for marriage equality. The Human Rights Coalition (HRC), one of America’s largest civil rights organizations committed to ensuring legal rights for the LGBT community, continues the struggle for LGBT rights by supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation aimed at protecting the LGBT community from discrimination in the workplace. ENDA would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against potential or current employees based on their sexual orientation or identity.

ENDA resembles Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in its purpose to prevent and eradicate discrimination of protected classes in the workplace. The HRC supports passing ENDA because there “is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination; there are no state laws in 29 states that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 32 states that do so on gender identity.” Currently, in the states that do not offer protection to LGBT workers, employees and prospective employees face routine and often legal discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA will provide LGBT workers with nationwide protection from employment discrimination, filling in the gaps left by state laws. Protection against sexual orientation and gender identity based discrimination is already widespread. According to a report by the HRC, 8 out of 10 voters already believe that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was illegal, showing that ENDA would provide the legal framework for rights that most Americans already believe exist.

 

Last year, the 198 female executives of companies included in the S&P 500 index earned approximately 18% percent less than their male counterparts.  Even the top-earning women in the country may be getting caught under the “glass ceiling.”

 

There are various rationales for the disparity in pay between men and women executives.  Some female executives claim to be less demanding with pay for fear, in part, of being stigmatized as too aggressive or self-centered.  Dawn Lepore, the former chief executive officer at Drugstore.com, said, “When I think about the way I negotiated my package when I went to Drugstore.com, I thought ‘this is a great opportunity and rather than demand a lot upfront, I’m going to do a great job and then I’ll get rewarded.’  I didn’t want to be greedy, or viewed as out for myself.  Maybe women are more collaborative.”

 

Another justification is lack of mentorship.  Facebook Inc.’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has said that women’s lack of sponsors in their workplaces keeps them from asking for better assignments and raises.

A former lawyer working for AIG has sued the company for discrimination, claiming colleagues and supervisors taunted him, mistreated him and ultimately fired him because he is black.

The Plaintiff, Earl E. Brown, age 40, filed a federal lawsuit in New York against his former boss and AIG Investments. In his lawsuit, Brown alleges that his boss, John P. Hornbostel, fostered an environment in which Brown was exposed to “discriminatory, humiliating, lewd, crude, unprofessional and inappropriate jokes, behavior, statements, innuendo, remarks, gestures comments, discussions and overall blatant and suggestive racist terms.”

Brown lists a few examples of this inappropriate behavior creating a hostile work environment such as an incident in which Hornbostel asked Brown into his office, only to yell: “Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s Fat Albert! Do you remember that cartoon!”