Age Discrimination

Employment practices are guided by various legal statutes, which have to be adhered to by employers to prevent costs associated with legal claims. This essay explores three cases involving employment practices by providing analyses based on legal guidelines.

Anne Marie Lindsey/Linda York V. Prive Corporation/Cabaret Royale

A prima facie case of age discrimination can be established if the employee indicates that, (a) one is in the protected class of 40 years and above, (b) one applied for a job based on qualifications, (c) one was rejected despite being qualified, and (d) the position remained open as the employer sought other applicants similar to the plaintiff’s qualifications.

In the case of Lindsey and York, a prima facie argument is possible as evidence indicates that they qualify within the four criteria. In the first criterion, both Lindsey and York are over 40 years of age meaning that they are in the protected class as defined by the ADEA. In Lindsey’s case, she was discharged as head waitress after being denied the position of a topless dancer, because she failed to meet the subjective criteria of the employer who considered her as too old, not beautiful, gorgeous or sophisticated. Furthermore, the employer gave preferential treatment to younger employees who were given promotions as topless dancers.

On the other hand, York was fired from her work as a waitress for giving a regular customer a lift home. The employer argued that she violated work policies against leaving with customers. However, younger employees were shown favorable treatment, as they were not disciplined for similar behavior. Using these criteria, the appellants can present a prima facie argument for age discrimination.

The applicants can be successful if they provide evidence indicating logical probability and, not simply a possibility of discrimination based on age. Therefore, they should provide circumstantial and direct evidence in supporting inferences of age discrimination. The plaintiffs can also shift the burden to the employer to express a legal nondiscriminatory ground for the employment decision. If the employer can explain the grounds for the decision, then the plaintiffs have to demonstrate that the provided explanation is merely alleged reason, justifying age discrimination. Through this, the plaintiffs will be successful in presenting their case against their former employer.

Gregory Wilson V. Southwest Airlines Company

In the constitution of the United States, Title VII states that employees cannot get differential treatment due to sex, unless it is considered as a bona fide occupational qualification (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2011). Using this argument, an organization is able to employ an individual based on qualifications logically necessary to operations of a specific enterprise. Although Southwest Airlines Company considers hiring only female in-flight attendants and ticket clerk positions as part of its corporate image based on experience, it has not established sex as a bona fide occupational qualification.  

In the first instance, the airliner has not shown reasonable necessity for hiring only female employees in these specific job descriptions. Especially, the airliner has not used factual evidence to indicate that hiring the male employees in such positions would undermine the normal operations. In particular, the studies conducted by the organization are skewed and cannot serve as accurate justification for excluding male employees in specific positions.

The common argument given for sex as a bona fide occupational qualification is that it is due to customer preferences. The airliner may argue that it hires female employees due to customer preferences, but the surveys done indicate that the `courteous and attentive hostesses’ category is ranked fifth by the passengers behind important aspects such as timely  departures, regularly scheduled departures, helpful ground and reservations personnel and convenience in departure times. Hence, the customers place high value on expected operations of an airliner over female employees. 

 Moreover, Southwest Airlines Company has not demonstrated that it was unfeasible to get men with the required abilities for the job, but also the abilities are essential, not merely tangential. The airliner may contend that in making their selections, they consider an individual’s ability to carry out non-mechanical aspects of a particular job, however, this does not justify the exclusion of all males as flight attendants and ticket agents as these elements are not logically necessary in airline operations. Therefore, Southwest Airlines Company has not established that sex is a bona fide occupational qualification in hiring of only female employees as in-flight attendants and ticket clerks. Consequently, using such requirements in its employment practices results into exclusion of male employees, which can be considered as discrimination based on sex.

Bonnie Cook V. Rhode Island

In this case, the contentious issue is obesity as a disability under the ADA. The amendments made to the ADA in 2008 recognized diabetes as a disability. Specifically, obesity  can be regarded as disability  under ADA when an individual  has an impairment that does not significantly limit major life activities, but is treated by the employer as if one has such an impairment, or when one has no impairment, but is treated by an employer as if one does (Griffin, 2007).

In the case of Cook, her obesity does not prevent her from being qualified as an individual with a disability under the ADA. In particular, her employer considered her weight as an impairment, although, she did not consider it as a disability. Moreover, Cook argued that her obesity could not significantly limit her ability to perform her work, but her employer treated it as a disability. Specifically, her employer contended that her obesity would affect her ability to evacuate patients in cases of emergency and would increase her susceptibility to further health risks. Hence, under the guidelines established by the ADA, Cooke’s obesity qualifies her as an individual with a disability.

Employment practices dealing with weight issues are guided by appearance-based perceptions. Thus, if Cook loses her weight, the perceptions related to obesity would change, as the employer would see that she is fit to carry out her job descriptions. Hence, the employer would not consider her weight as impairment significantly limiting ability in major life activities. As a result, she would be re-hired back to her former job with the institution.

In making a decision, the court should place the burden on the employer to compensate Cook, as there was discrimination for a person with a disability as defined by the ADA guidelines. Furthermore, the court should ensure that the Cook’s employer gives her the job and provides necessary support for her to perform her job effectively. Through this, discrimination based on disability would be avoided in federal institutions.

In conclusion, this essay has analyzed three legal cases based on employment practices. In making employment decisions based on age, employers should avoid intentional and inadvertent discrimination against their employees. Furthermore, employers should interpret the bona fide occupational qualification narrowly to prevent discriminatory practices against a specific group. Additionally, in considering body weight issues in employment practices, employers should be aware of ADA guidelines on obesity as a disability to prevent legal claims arising out of discriminatory practices. Hence, it has emerged that employers should adhere to established laws and regulations on employment practices to safeguard against costs associated with legal suits.