Recession Used an Excuse for Gender Discrimination in NYC?

July 31, 2012

Our New York City employment lawyers know that women are not expendable assets - fine for when business is going well, but unnecessary when it comes time to belt-tightening. callcenter.jpg

And yet, that is the allegation being made by five female executives who say they unfairly lost their jobs in the wake of the financial meltdown.

That some bank executives no longer have jobs wouldn't merit much attention - or sympathy - but for the fact that a number of lesser qualified male employees were able to hold on to their positions -- at least according to the allegations.

To be sure, the implosion of the housing market and the subsequent recession necessitated cuts within a number of large financial institutions. But an attorney for the former executives says the number of those who were women, in proportion to men, combined with the fact that there were few women at these institutions in the first place, show a clear discrimination.

For example at one public finance firm, 45 percent of the company's top executives laid off were women. And yet, only 12 percent of the department was comprised of women to start.

In fact, of the roughly 260,000 lay-offs in the financial sector just after the housing bust, 72 percent were women, who made up about 60 percent of the workforce in the first place.

This has left a number of firms with no more top female management.

And this is not a phenomenon that is solely found in the financial sector.

In fact, recently-released federal data showed that since June 2009, men have been the ones to land about 80 percent of the 2.6 million jobs that have been created. In the last year, they have snapped up more than 60 percent of new jobs.

Part of this has to do with the kind of jobs that are being created. Men largely dominate manufacturing jobs, and a number of those sectors have rebounded in the last couple of years. Meanwhile in government, which is occupied by a majority of women, has continued to be hit hard with budget cuts.

However, the co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research was quoted by the L.A. Times as saying that there is a sneaking suspicion that some employers will take a male applicant more seriously than a female, even when both are equally qualified.

This is gender discrimination.

It can be difficult to prove, but it is illegal and should be taken seriously and discussed with an experienced New York City employment lawyer.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment litigation representation in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or send us an e-mail.

Additional Resources:
Lawsuit: Employers using recession as pretext to discriminate against women, By Helen Kennedy, The New York Daily News

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New York City Discrimination Attorneys: Are Female Dress Codes Legal? , May 31, 2012, New York Employment Law Attorney Blog