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What Is “Sex-Plus” Discrimination and How Can This Legal Concept Help You If You’ve Been Fired or Denied Employment in New Jersey?

Discrimination law has come a long way in the last half-century. As recently as 50 years ago, a major aviation company refused to hire women if they were mothers to very young children. 30 years ago, American Airlines still had a policy that called for the termination of female flight attendants if they were anything more than quite thin. For example, a 5’5” tall female flight attendant could be fired if she weighed 130 pounds or more.

Today, these types of employment actions and policies could potentially give a harmed worker a winning discrimination claim. They potentially represent a subset of discrimination law called “sex-plus” discrimination. In these circumstances, the employers aren’t committing “regular” sex discrimination, but are discriminating based on “sex plus” one other characteristic, such as sex plus motherhood status. It’s against the law and, if you have been harmed at work due to this type of discrimination, you may be entitled to a significant sum of damages, so you should take the time to contact an experienced New Jersey sex discrimination attorney right away.

Regrettably, this type of discrimination still occurs. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals looked at such a case last year, ruling for the fired employee. That employee, K.C.R., took a job in 2015 as a Pennsylvania-based district manager for a chain of adult bookstores. Her employment duration was extremely short. Her first day was Nov. 9. On Thursday, Nov. 19, she texted C.M., the man who had hired her, to tell him that she had gotten married that previous weekend. On Friday, Nov. 20, she was fired.

Over the course of that Friday, C.M. and K.C.R. exchanged several texts. At one point, he texted her to say that the woman’s employment was “just not working out and I gave the other girl another chance.” C.M. also noted in that same text that K.C.R. had a managerial job “at the bar” and that she had “a new husband.”

This, according to the appeals court – whose rulings impact federal cases in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware – was enough proof to give the woman a viable claim of “sex-plus” discrimination.

The fired manager had two key items in her favor. One was C.M.’s own words. During his text-message discussion with K.C.R. about her firing, he expressly noted that she had another job (“the bar”) and that she had a new husband. Also, at his deposition, C.M. specifically stated that K.C.R. “just got married…. She’s not my problem…. It’s not my job to support that girl. …. Let [her husband] take care of her.” That evidence raised a plausible implication that K.C.R.’s new marriage was one of the factors that influenced the decision to fire her.

The timing of your firing can be key proof of illegal discrimination

Another thing on her side was timing. If you can give the court evidence of highly suspicious timing, then that can go a long way toward strengthening your case significantly. For example, if your employer fired you one week after you announce that you’re pregnant, then that could be very powerful and helpful proof in a pregnancy discrimination case. If, on the other hand, your employer fired you 18 months after you disclosed that you had inflammatory bowel disease, that would be much less persuasive evidence in a disability discrimination claim.

In K.C.R.’s case, she alleged that she told C.M. on Thursday that she’d gotten married, the bookstore fired her on Friday and that, directly or indirectly, C.M. had influenced or driven that decision to fire her. That timing evidence was strong enough to give her a viable case.

There are many different ways that your employment can impermissibly discriminate against you. It may be because you have a baby at home, it may be that you just got married (or divorced) or it could be something else. Whatever the situation, you need skilled and aggressive legal counsel for your discrimination case. Contact to the knowledgeable New Jersey sex discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates for representation upon which you can confidently rely. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how our experienced attorneys can help you.

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