Despite the enormous power employers have over employees, employers are bound by federal and state laws to not discriminate against any employee based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy. With all hiring and firing decisions and any aspect of treatment on the job, the law forbids discrimination.
But workplace discrimination can be hard to identify and even harder to prove.
Gender-based discrimination at Twitter
Since Elon Musk took over the social media site Twitter, he has engaged in mass layoffs, reducing employee rolls by 50%. Some former employees claim that these job cuts have affected some types of workers more than others. Axios reports that a group of former Twitter employees recently filed a class action suit against Twitter alleging discrimination against female employees.
The lawsuit alleges that Twitter’s mass layoffs fell more heavily against female employees than male employees, with 57% of the women on staff terminated, compared to 47% of the men onboard.
In engineering-related roles, the situation was more extreme. There, Twitter sacked 63% of its female force vis-à-vis 48% of its men, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also presents evidence of Elon Musk’s alleged animus towards women, stating that Musk publicly made discriminatory remarks about women.
The lawsuit alleges workplace discrimination in violation of both federal and California state laws.
Disparate impact in employment law refers to a situation in which an employer makes a move that appears neutral on its face but has a disproportionate impact on certain workers because of their race, sex or other protected characteristic. The workplace move may not have been intentionally discriminatory, but in effect it was, and so a cause of action is created. This differs from a disparate treatment claim, where it can be shown that a protected group was intentionally treated unfairly and harmed.
These cases can be quite complex. Experienced attorneys help workers understand their rights and legal options after they suspect they have been discriminated against in the workplace.