Men get single rooms, but women have to share. Is that discrimination?

There is a practice that is happening at my place of employment that concerns me and I want to ask your opinion. Any time employees have to travel on business, the men always get to have separate hotel rooms, but the women employees are asked/made to share a room. While sometimes this may not be an issue for certain women, it is for other women. I am worried that we will get into trouble for this practice.

Posted  07-08-2013

Ann Kiernan replies:

Sure sounds like sex discrimination to me! The law requires that men and women be given the same terms and conditions of employment, which certainly includes travel accommodations. While I can understand a company wanting to save money by having employees double up, I can also see some problems:

Disability rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act says that employee medical information is strictly confidential. Sharing a room might require some employees to involuntarily disclose a disability because they must take certain medications, such as AZT for AIDS, perform some self-treatments, such as use an asthma inhaler, or use equipment, such as a C-PAP machine for sleep apnea.

Harassment. Just because employees are the same gender doesn’t mean there can’t be unwelcome advances or propositions.

Privacy. Let’s face it, if you really respect your employees, they should not have to listen to a coworker snore, smell their stinky socks, share the soap in the shower, listen in on their phone calls to home, or deal with their bathroom habits.

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2015-06-10T20:16:26+00:00

About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.