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Gender Trends: Men's Groups Suing Women for Discrimination

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on January 19, 2016 1:10 PM

Women have been in the workplace a while now and the statistics are starting to reflect their successes. But there are efforts being made -- in the sciences and technology particularly -- to bring more women in. So is it too soon to sue women's groups for discrimination when they network without men?

Some men say no, it's not too soon, reports Mother Jones, and they are members of the National Coalition for Men. In lawsuits they filed against women's networking groups, the men are claiming discrimination. The problem, these men say, is that women are blatantly keeping them from professional opportunities when they don't let them attend women's-only networking events.

Is This for Real?

NCFM has sued women who were marketing networking events for women that discriminated against men."Women typically earn more than do men" in industrial engineering and "all other engineering disciplines," Harry Crouch, the NCFM's president, writes on the group's website. "Surely, networking mixers to encourage more men to take part in those fields are needed, but not at the exclusion of women," wrote Crouch.

But census data says otherwise: As of 2013, median earnings for men in computer, science, and engineering occupations were about $13,000 more than the median earnings for women. In fact, the lack of gender diversity at tech companies and in the sciences is a problem the nation's biggest tech companies themselves admit to and are trying to address.

Legally Speaking

The NFCM lawsuits are based on the Unruh Act, a decades-old civil rights law named after Jesse Unruh, a progressive former speaker of the California Assembly. The law bars discrimination based on markers such as age, race, sex, or disability. In dozens of lawsuits, several NCFM members have invoked it to allege discrimination against men by everyone from sports teams to local theaters.

Sound absurd? Well, the strategy has worked. In May 2015, Leslie Fishlock, the CEO of Geek Girl, a tech training company, got a letter from the NCFM alleging that the female-focused marketing for her upcoming Geek Girl tech conference was discriminatory.

She worried her sponsors, University of San Diego and Microsoft in particular, would pull out at the last minute. They didn't, but since then, Fishlock has been warning other women in tech to be wary of their marketing and networking efforts.

Talk to a Lawyer

Whatever your gender, if you would like to host an employment-related event and are unsure of what is appropriate, or if you have other questions about business operations, speak to a lawyer. Counsel can help.

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