A guy walks into a bar … and gets discriminated against because of his sex (allegedly)

Google Maps - Street ViewProving that it’s not just women who are victims of sex discrimination, I’ve got news of a new EEOC lawsuit alleging that a company refused to hire a male applicant because of his sex.

Unlike yesterday’s post, this has nothing to do with Silicon Valley. Silicone, however? Maybe.

You see, that “bar” the guy walked into was a gentlemen’s club.

Now, if we’re talkin’ body, cue music. Or, if you prefer some body talk (and hair metal), cue music.

Can a gentlemen’s club legally refuse to hire a guy?

It depends, said the lawyer.

Is the man applying to be a dancer? In that case, sure, the club can refuse to hire a man. Indeed, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits employers to hire and employ employees on the basis of sex if sex is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business. And, I’m told that most men go to gentlemen’s clubs to see naked women dance for them. I’m also told that most men don’t go to gentlemen’s clubs to see naked men dance for them. So, I’m told.

What if the man wants to sling drinks or play music? If you Google this issue, my blog comes up on the first page. I’ve talked about it in a related context here, here, and here.

Gosh, what it’s done for my business and my overall credibility as an employment lawyer. Oh, by the way…

Anyway, here’s a nugget from the EEOC’s press release about why this hiring practice may not hold water under Title VII:

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, on Oct. 5, 2015, James Sharp attempted to apply for a position as a bartender at Sammy’s Fort Walton Beach location after seeing an advertisement online. Sharp went to Sammy’s to apply in person, but the manager allegedly stated that Sammy’s did not hire male bartenders. Although Sharp had bartending and management experience, he was not allowed to apply for the position. Sammy’s subsequently hired at least two females for bartending positions at that location. According to the suit, during 2015 Sammy’s employed 17 females and no males in bartender positions at its Fort Walton Beach location.

And before you go thinking that customer preference is an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card, think again. Further, and putting aside my corny Silicon/Silicone “parallel” to yesterday’s post, here’s a more important takeaway from the EEOC:

“Although sex-based discrimination against women may be more common than against men, employers must realize that no person, male or female, can be denied employment based on sex, except in the rare instances when gender is a bona fide occupational qualification,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Marsha L. Rucker. “When hiring decisions are made based on an applicant’s sex, the EEOC will act to enforce the federal laws that were enacted to prohibit such discrimination.”

Now, go bring this back to your business whilst I re-enroll myself in Marketing 101.

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