Philadelphia Employment Law News

City of Philadelphia Prison Coughs Up $48,600 to Female Officer

There is good news for one female corrections officer and bad news for another, reports the Philadelphia Human Resources Commission. Two women had their claims against the City of Philadelphia heard recently. Both were guards at the city prison and both claimed that they were denied promotions based on their gender.

It is unclear what the difference in their cases was, but Jill Toomer prevailed on her sex discrimination while losing on her race discrimination claim. Renee Johnson’s similar claims were denied.

All sex discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by state and federal law. Decisions on hiring, firing, and promotions must be made for gender-neutral reasons. For Toomer, the Pennsylvania Human Resources Commission found that there was enough evidence to show that she was denied promotions based unlawfully on her gender.

The City of Philadelphia has been ordered to fork over back wages in the amount of $31,256 plus interest per annum, dating back to January 2003. The total, as of now, is at $48,600. The prison must also train its staff on gender discrimination issues.

Gender discrimination is a serious problem because it is usually hard to prove. Often, the discrimination is either subconscious, or the discriminatory employment decision can be justified on other grounds, such as seniority or productivity. Unlike the employers on Mad Men, bosses are rarely dumb enough to come out and say, "No, you do not get a promotion, because you are a woman."

In order for Jill Toomer to have prevailed, she must have had a pretty impressive record at the prison. Even a minor write-up could have presented some justification for promoting someone else.

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