Last week, I posted a local Craigslist job listing from a cliche of a sexist boss. Our intrepid discriminator sought a "Smart, Sexy, Young, Female" with mad fax machine skills to assist him in his Washington area office; we ridiculed him.
But a reader got serious via e-mail: "Isn't it illegal to advertise for a job in such a clearly sexist way?" Likely: Sex and age discrimination in employment are prohibited by federal law. Federal law applies only to employers of 15 people or more, but D.C. law, at least, covers workplaces of all sizes.
Now: All we need is some old, not-particularly-sexy male candidates with mad fax machine skills and a hunger for a legal battle to test this guy's criteria!
According to D.C. employment lawyer Alan Lescht, the sexism on display here "sounds to be inappropriate, and it may, in fact, be unlawful," Lescht says. "But just keep in mind that people in businesses engage in unlawful behavior all the time."
Still, local job-seekers-old, young, male, female, sexy, not particularly-may be able to ding this guy. "For civil infractions, there's no process where there's like a police or something," Lescht says. "The way for it to come to the attention of either the court or a human rights office would be for someone to apply and be rejected."
The only way our sexist faxer will see the strong arm of the law, on the other hand, is for candidates outside the Sexy, Young, Female applicant pool to actually submit their resumes (and headshots) and get turned down. Alternately, a more "qualified" candidate could take the job-and use the ad as evidence of her employer's intent if she ever happens to be sexually harassed on the job. Good luck, litigious unemployed persons-the job's still posted! [since removed]
Alternately: About that posting. Craigslist users can also flag it as inappropriate; I have a note out to Craigslist asking whether it removes discriminatory job ads as a matter of policy.
Amanda Hess - September 21, 2010 - 11:55 AM