Gender-based weekend workloads

At one point in the history of the Dallas County Sherriff’s Department, schedules for detention officers were determined by seniority. That changed in April 2019 when the county mandated that only women must work at least one day each weekend.

Despite a male sergeant’s alleged revelation of a gender-based rule, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a dismissal from the district court, claiming that scheduling does not play a role in an employment decision.

A second chance

That ruling was subsequently vacated. The female detention officers are requesting reinstatement of the lawsuit. Challenges exist when trying to reverse precedent that places limitations on Title VII actions involving what is referred to as “ultimate employment decisions” that take the form of:

  • Hiring
  • Promoting
  • Compensating
  • Discharging
  • Granting leave

Female detention officers will request reinstatement of a lawsuit to the full Fifth Circuit Tuesday that alleges the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department use of what they see as illegal scheduling policies that prioritize male colleagues taking weekends off. In contrast, the female staff is forced to work Saturdays and Sundays.

Protections provided by Title VII

The plaintiffs claim a narrowing of broad protections that come with Title VII. They argue that it bars discrimination against anyone when it comes to compensation, terms, conditions, or employment privileges because of a protected characteristic. Recent decisions have overturned similar requirements.

County attorneys fear floodgates of litigation from something they see as trivial. A representative working on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Women’s Law Center, and other entities pushed back on that claim. They cited a US Supreme Court Decision that eliminated ultimate employment decision requirements for retaliation where attorneys expressed similar fears that never came to pass.

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