Hudson, WI asked in Employment Discrimination for Wisconsin

Q: Is our company vulnerable to a gender discrimination suit?

My partners recently voted to hire a less qualified male over a much more qualified female. The vote was for a managers position that is being vacated by a male. Our wisconsin LLC has no female managers. All partners agreed the female was much more qualified. When I suggested that this might leave our company open to a gender discrimination suit a vote was taken to not fill the position rather than hire the most qualified individual. I was the only dissenting vote on both issues. The vast majority of our employees are male. Females only have part time positions. I do not think the vote to not fill the position protects our company from a gender discrimination suit. Does it? After the first answer I guess I need to add that she is aware of the vote to hire a significantly less qualified male candidate AND the vote to not fill the position to attempt to avoid suit. The likelihood of suit is high. I believe that we still have the option of hiring her to avoid suit.

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1 Lawyer Answer
William F Sulton
William F Sulton
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: There is a more practical question: what is the likelihood that the female candidate will sue? Most business decisions boil down to managing risk. And in terms of litigation, businesses need to consider and weigh likelihood of a lawsuit and the likely cost of defending a lawsuit. It is probably unlikely that the female candidate will suspect that the position was not filled because the company was going to select a less qualified male--as she was not privy to the conversation.

You also say that the company has not promoted any women. As of the time of your inquiry, it appears that no one has sued on that ground. While that could form the basis for a lawsuit, it does not follow that the company will be sued; and history suggests that it will not. But yes, the company's poor track record on promoting women would surely be highlighted in a discrimination case.

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