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Imposing a Sex-Stereotyped Stigma On Employees Violates Title VII

Imposing a Sex-Stereotyped Stigma On Employees Violates Title VII

The Eighth Circuit joins other U.S. Courts of Appeals that have ruled on claims that an employer violated Title VII by imposing a sex-stereotyped stigma on a protected employee.  In the case of Lewis v. Heartland Inns of America, No. 08-3860 (8th Cir.2010), the defendant took away the plaintiff's front-desk clerk's daytime hours because she supposedly dressed like Ellen DeGeneres and lacked the "Midwestern girl look."  The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant and the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment and remanded for trial.

Previously, the Ninth, Seventh, and Sixth Circuits and (most recently) the Third Circuit (Prowel v. Wise Business Forms, Inc., 579 F.3d 285 (3d Cir. 2009)) have ruled on claims that an employer discriminated against (or tolerated harassment of) employees whose dress and behavior did not conform to a gender stereotype of feminity or masculinity.  All of these courts recognized such a claim under Title VII or parallel state laws. 


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