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California Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment > Women have a Right to be Offered, and to Take, Dangerous Jobs

Women have a Right to be Offered, and to Take, Dangerous Jobs


Let’s say that you are a woman, and you are applying for a job that may be considered dangerous-or perhaps, you are asking for a promotion within your company to a position that could be considered dangerous or risky.

Your employer is concerned, and tells you that you can’t be hired or promoted to that position, but it’s for your own safety; the employer doesn’t want to put you at risk as a woman, and a man gets the position instead.

Gender discrimination? Or is this just doing the right thing, keeping you from harm?

Women Don’t Need Protecting in the Workplace

The law says that this is discrimination; it is not an employer’s job to say what jobs are or are not “too dangerous” for a woman (assuming that such a job even exists). The decision to put herself in possible danger is the decision that belongs to the woman applicant herself—not to an employer.

This all ignores the fact that much of the rationale that any job is too dangerous for a woman, is predicated on myth, stereotyping, or generalization. Allowing this kind of stereotyping just perpetuates traditional, dated notions of what “woman’s work” is or isn’t, a practice that is, thankfully, illegal.

Furthermore, allowing such discrimination would allow employers who want to discriminate to do so legally, as there are a lot of jobs that could be construed as dangerous—imagine women who couldn’t be truckers, or airline pilots, just because there is some risk of accidents.

This includes the prohibition on discriminating against female employees because work may be too physical or strenuous.

Proving Safety Equipment

Once a woman does take a dangerous job, the employer must take steps to ensure that the woman is protected as much as a male employee would be. In many cases, employers don’t have protective equipment or other safety equipment that properly fits a woman’s size or body.

Bona Fide Job Qualifications

Like many areas of employment discrimination, there is an exception made for employers, where exclusion of women for some reason would constitute a bona fide occupational qualification or BFOQ. But courts have uniformly rejected employers’ attempts to exclude women from jobs based on BFOQs.

For example, it is discrimination to assume that women won’t want a job that requires being called into work in the middle of the night, or that a woman couldn’t be a jewelry store manager, because of the risk of robberies. It was also discrimination to refuse to hire a woman, because she would be dangerously alone during her work shift.

Even a defense that other females were hired to do work, and failed or could not do the work is not an excuse to exclude any female applicant from the job.

Were you discriminated against at work because you are a woman? Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today.




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