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The Price of Stereotyping

Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins established the right of employees to base a discrimination claim on sex role stereotyping. A partner in Price Waterhouse had recommended that a female associate walk more like a woman and go to charm school to have a better chance to reach the partner track. The Supreme Court upheld a Title VII violation when supervisors passed over the associate for promotion because she did not dress and talk as they perceived a woman should.

“After Price Waterhouse, an employer who discriminates against women because, for instance, they do not wear dresses or makeup is engaging in sex discrimination,” wrote the 11th Circuit panel in Glenn v. Brumby. “It follows that employers who discriminate against men because they do wear dresses and makeup or otherwise act femininely are also engaging in sex discrimination.”

Since the 1989 Price Waterhouse decision, many federal district courts have ruled that discrimination against transgender individuals violates Title VII, according to Jackson Lewis Partner Michelle Phillips.

Price Waterhouse placed discrimination based on sexual stereotyping on the map,” Phillips says.

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