Entries in Employment Discrimination (3)


Woman Sues Over Personality Test Discrimination

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In 2007, Vicky Sandy applied for a job as a cashier, bagger and stocker at a Kroger supermarket in West Virginia. As part of the application process, Sandy was asked to take a 50-question "personality test" that would predict whether she would be friendly and communicate well with customers.

The test, called a "Customer Service Assessment" ("CSA"), was designed by Kronos, a workforce management solutions company, and reportedly evaluates characteristics that could factor into a person's job performance. For example: Is she patient, a team player? Does he listen attentively and respectively?

Those with higher CSA scores are supposedly more cheerful and friendly, and are better able to listen carefully and communicate well with customers than those with lower scores.

Sandy, who is hearing- and speech-impaired, scored a 40 percent. Her post-test results showed that she was less likely than other applicants to "listen carefully, understand and remember" and suggested the job interviewer listen for "correct language" and "clear enunciation," the Wall Street Journal reported.

She was not hired, and subsequently filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In court documents Kroger stated that it had based its decision in part on her low assessment score.

While the EEOC is still investigating the claim, the issue has brought up larger questions about personality tests, which have become common in the hiring process and are often used to screen applicants in the finance, technology, healthcare and the retail industries.

According to a 2011 poll from The Society for Human Resource Management, 18 percent of 495 randomly selected HR professionals use some kind of personality test in the hiring or employee promotion process. Of these, 56 percent use them for mid-level managers, followed closely by executives (45 percent) and entry-level exempt jobs (43 percent). Seventy-one percent of them said that personality tests can be useful in predicting job-related behavior or organizational fit.

But what the SHRM survey did not say is that they can potentially be used to discriminate against certain potential employees because of, say, their race or gender. From Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012, the EEOC received 164 charges of discrimination challenging an array of employment tests—including, but not limited to, personality tests, Justine S. Lisser, a spokesperson for the EEOC told ABC News. The EEOC received 100,000 charges of discrimination during the same  period, she said.

"Are you using a test to screen out applicants, or to provide insights on people who you are interested in?" added Daniel Schwartz, an employment lawyer at Pullman and Comley, in Hartford, Conn. "Those are two different reasons."

Personality tests could be discriminatory, said Lisser, if they are intentionally used to treat members of a particular ethnic or religious group worse than others. "There would be disparate treatment discrimination, for example, if an employer only gave personality tests to Hispanics because he thought them inherently untrustworthy and did not give the tests to anyone else," she said. There would also be discrimination "if an employer gave a test to everyone, but the test disproportionately screened out African-Americans and did not predict job success."

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if a personality test involves a medical examination—that is, if it measures the individual's physical or mental impairments or health—the test can only be administered until after a job offer is made.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Woman Says She Was Fired for Being too Busty

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New Jersey woman says she was fired from her job after her manager told her to "tape her breasts" down, and now has filed suit against the company claiming religious and sexual discrimination.

Former data entry worker Lauren Odes said that after two days with Native Intimates, a midtown Manhattan wholesale lingerie company, a supervisor told her the store owners were not happy with her outfit, suggesting it was too "distracting."

"When I first started working there, I asked what the dress code was, and I was just told to look around and see what everyone else was wearing," Odes said in a press conference Monday.  "So I did.  The dress was very casual athletic wear to business attire."

Odes said the company owners are Orthodox Jews who were offended by her attire.

At a news conference announcing the suit, she said that at first she compromised, saying she'd wear a gray T-shirt and black jeggings with rain boots to work, but that wasn't enough.

"When my supervisors suggested that I tape down my breasts, I asked 'Are you kidding me?'" Odes said.  "The supervisor said, 'Just cover up a little more.'"

The female supervisor then walked over to a closet, pulled out a bright red bathrobe decorated with pictures of guitars, and told Odes to put it on, she said.

"She told me to sit at my desk and wear it all day.  I felt completely humiliated," Odes said.  "She put the bathrobe on me and tied the belt and I returned to my desk wearing it."

Her supervisor then gave her the option of to go out and buy a sweater that "went to her ankles" instead of wearing the bathrobe, she said.  After being ridiculed and made fun of by co-workers, Odes said, she obliged.

But while she was out shopping for the sweater, the 29-year-old got a phone call saying she'd been terminated, she said.

Now, attorney Gloria Allred has filed suit against Native Intimates with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"The treatment was discriminatory, profoundly humiliating and unlawful," Allred said.

Odes, who said she is also Jewish, said no employer has the right to impose their religious beliefs on employees.

"I do not feel an employer has the right to impose their religious beliefs on me when I'm working in a business that's not a synagogue, but sells things with hearts on the female genitals and boy shorts for women that say hot in the buttocks area," she said. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Grandma Claims She Was Fired for Having Breast Cancer

ABC (HOUSTON) -- A Texas grandmother of five says she was wrongfully fired from her job because she got cancer. Now, she's suing for employment discrimination.

Janet Hustus, 53, was working as the Conference Meetings Director for Crowne Plaza Houston in January 2011 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I was devastated. When you hear those words it is very devastating," Hustus said. "You have cancer, and you don't know what to do. You have so many emotions."

She went to her general manager, Jerry Mathers, a few days later to discuss her schedule and surgery dates. Hustus says Mathers assured her the company would work around her schedule and "support her any way possible," including keeping her job open for her.

"His wife had gone through the same thing a few years prior," Hustus said. "He was very supportive and told me he'd have his wife call me and talk to me on what to expect."

Hustus had surgery a few months later and returned to work after eight weeks of recovery. Four days into working, she was fired.

"Jerry called me into his office that Saturday morning and couldn't look me in the eyes. That's when I knew something was wrong," Hustus said. "They had to trim back departments and my department was cut. I was let go."

But the Texan believes Crowne Plaza Hotel fired her because of insurance, knowing she had more follow-up surgeries required.

"I've seen very similar cases," her attorney, Ellen Sprovach, said. "The minute an employee tells the employer 'I'm going to have to have surgery' they're interestingly laid off."

Michael Stanley, who's representing Crowne Plaza, said Tuesday he hasn't answered the lawsuit because they haven't been served with the lawsuit, and have only seen a copy of it. Stanley sent ABC News affiliate KTRK in Houston the following statement on Monday:

"My client just received the lawsuit today and will take a serious look at all of the allegations. I understand that Ms. Hustus worked in a sales-related position and was fired for reasons unrelated to any illness or disability."

"Crowne Plaza has never said that prior to last night," Sprovach said.

Hustus, who is now cancer-free and has a new job, hopes to collect financial damages for medical bills and mental anguish.

"I just want people to be aware. Don't always trust the people you think you can trust," Hustus said. "I don't have any bad feelings against Jerry or the hotel. That's not right, and they have to live with it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio