EEOC Settlement Shatters Glass Ceiling
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a whopping 19 million dollar settlement of a class action "glass ceiling" lawsuit against Outback Steakhouse last week.
The lawsuit involved a class of female employees who claimed that they were illegally denied:
- equal opportunity for advancement
- promotional opportunities to high level profit sharing management positions
- favorable job assignments, particularly, kitchen management experience, which was required for employees to receive consideration for top restaurant management positions
Stuart J. Ishimaru, EEOC Acting Chairman had this to to say in conjunction with the announcement:
There are still too many glass ceilings left to shatter in the workplaces throughout corporate America. ...
Hopefully this major settlement will remind employers about the perils of perpetuating promotion practices that keep women from advancing at work.
Let's hope so. It's been almost 30 years since the Wall Street Journal popularized the term "glass ceiling" in an article describing the invisible barriers that women confront as they approach the top of corporate hierarchy.
The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and issued several reports between 1991 and 1996. The last report noted that among Fortune 500 companies:
- 95 -97% of senior managers were men
- 97% of male top executives were white
- 95% of the three to five percent of the top managers who were women were white
I don' t know how much better the data would look today but my bet would be that the difference wouldn't be significant. No doubt ladies -- after all of these years, we still have a long way to go.
I have talked to hundreds of women through the years who confront these issues at work each day. Many just don't want to rock the boat to fight for the promotions they deserve -- and that's understandable.
That's why cases like this one are so important. Three cheers for the courageous women who brought this class action lawsuit and the EEOC's vigorous pursuit of equal opportunity for women.