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  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 2:19 pm on March 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , #InterviewDiscrimination, #SexDiscrimination   

    Interview Discrimination: What Employers Legally Can’t Ask Women 


    Article written by guest blogger: Patrick Foster

    A job interview can be a stressful experience for anyone, even at the best of times. Presenting yourself well, learning about the role, and asking the right questions can be demanding.

    For women, it can be especially frustrating. In a study by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that employers were twice as likely to hire a man over a woman. And women make up only 4.2% of CEOs and just 19.2% of board members at firms on the Standard & Poor’s 500.

    Facing such a potentially tough landscape as a woman in the workplace, it’s important to be aware of what your rights are during the interview stage. So before your next application, read on for some useful insights and actionable advice that will help you navigate the choppy waters of your job interview.

    How common is interview discrimination against women?

    Since the Civil Rights Act was introduced in 1964, huge strides have been made by women in the workplace. Despite significant progress since then (especially in the past five years), women still experience significant discrimination. 42% of women in the US have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, and are twice as likely as men to report discrimination based on their gender while at work.

    Unfortunately, this discrimination extends to the interview process as well. Even before joining a company, female interviewees can be subjected to unfair gender-based prejudices and even illegal questioning.

    Women themselves can often be only too aware of this — finding themselves having to either lie or change their behavior or appearance in order to appear more favorable in a job interview.


    The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was enacted to protect the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. With it came a number of stipulations for businesses, including the condition that employers must amend any tasks that a pregnant woman would have to carry out in the course of her day-to-day duties.

    This applies regardless of the industry they work in, whether it’s office work or more physical work.

    Unfortunately, some employers view this as a burden, and as such will take steps to identify during the interview process if a woman is pregnant, or plans to conceive in the near future. The PDA accounts for this, and consequently it is illegal for employers to ask a woman about pregnancy.

    If you are asked this, refuse to answer. But beware: employers may get around this by phrasing it differently, for example: “do you have plans to start a family anytime soon?” or “are you taking birth control?”

    Physical appearance

    It is federal law that employers cannot choose one job applicant over another based on their physical appearance instead of their experience and qualifications. Unfortunately, women’s experiences of this happening to them are only too common.

    In your interview, watch out for red flags such as your potential employer commenting on your appearance, no matter how minor it might seem. For example, be aware of questions such as “do you do your makeup like that everyday?”.

    If you are asked anything about your appearance, firmly but politely state that you would prefer not to discuss it.


    This is especially common, particularly as the global recession forces more and more older people to stay in work in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately, despite federal labor laws intended to prevent discrimination, women in particular find their age a point of contention during job interviews.

    That said, it is not illegal to ask someone their age during a job interview.

    However, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 does declare discrimination on this basis illegal for people over 40. There are also some state laws that protect younger workers from age discrimination too. However, this can make it tricky to know how to respond if asked.

    As such, if you are asked about your age, redirect them by being forthright about your experience, skills, and qualifications.

    Show them that you know what the role demands and that you are the perfect candidate for the role. Subtly but firmly make clear that your age is just a number, and that your skills and personality are what matters.

    Relationship status

    Federal and several state laws prohibit employers from querying the relationship status of a candidate. While discrimination based on marital status is not explicitly referred to, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act states that businesses cannot discriminate on the grounds of sex. Discrimination on the basis of marital status is often considered discrimination on the basis of sex in the eyes of the law.

    Be wary of personal questions and refuse to discuss it if it comes up. If they contest this, refer to the law and simply state you are not comfortable talking about it. It is your right as a candidate to not discuss your marital status.

    So what can women do?

    It might feel impossible to combat discrimination during or after a job interview, but there are lots of things women can do to combat and prevent this.

    Don’t give too much away

    When you’re applying for a job, be careful not to reveal any personal information about yourself accidentally that is not related to the role itself.

    This often happens before the interview during small talk, as it is easy to let slip private information when your guard is down. To avoid this, keep your written and verbal contact prior to the interview friendly but professional, and think before you speak.

    Take legal advice

    If you feel you have been a victim of interview discrimination, you should lodge a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will look into your claim and determine whether a breach of US law has been made. If this is the case, they will begin legal proceedings.

    If you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against during an interview, you should consider getting a free initial case review from a legal professional. They will consider your situation and advise how you can or should proceed. Speak to a local attorney and request a free initial case review to weigh your options.

    Don’t take to social media

    If you have had a negative experience during or after a job interview and felt as though you were treated unfairly in the process, it can be tempting to voice your indignation on social media.

    However, this is not always wise. Naming and shaming a business or individual can often lead to legal proceedings against the complainant, and can interfere with any investigation into the discrimination against you.

    If you do take to social media to vent your concerns, avoid anything that could possibly identify the employer. That includes specifics such as their name and address, but also general information such as their industry. Play it safe, and follow the steps above rather than taking to social media.

    Beware of leading statements

    It is illegal for employers to make statements that would draw a response from the candidate related to their family or marital status.

    For example, if a potential employer said that they have to leave early once a week to take their children to sports practice, that could potentially encourage the candidate to elaborate on their family situation too.

    We have made huge leaps for women in the workplace in the past few years. More and more women are succeeding in business and the number of females in senior roles is growing, albeit slowly.

    Despite this, the hiring process for female candidates is still rife with discrimination. Do your research and know your rights as a potential employee, and discuss only that which you are legally obliged to.

    If you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against, take the necessary recommended steps to ensure you are protected, as both a candidate and a woman.

    For further information, this Houston immigration lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer may be reached at bruce.coane@gmail.com or at 305.538.6800 or 713.850.0066

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 4:59 pm on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Judge Releases Orders in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit against Dignity Health 

    Our law firm has been representing a former employee of Dignity Health in a sex discrimination case in U.S.District Court in Phoenix, Arizona.

    The case has been going on for quite some time with a likely trial date for this year. In this case, our client is a male who worked in a 5-person lab at Dignity Health in Phoenix. Our client alleges, and the evidence has shown, that his boss was sleeping with a female co-worker, and then keeping her as a lab employee as he fabricated reasons for letting other male lab employees go. Our client was terminated, in favor of the hospital keeping our client’s boss’s girlfriend, even though our client alleges that he and the other men in the lab were significantly more qualified than their boss’s girlfriend.

    Eventually, the entire lab disbanded, apparently due to lack of funding, with our client’s ex-boss and his girlfriend as the last employees.

    The action that the judge took this week was to warn former OBGYN Department chair at Dignity, Dr. James Balducci, that he must contact our law firm because he ignored a subpoena to appear for a deposition. The judge’s Order states that he’d consider holding the doctor  in contempt of court if he fails to promptly contact us to reschedule his deposition.

    In addition to Balducci being a no-show for his deposition, Dignity Health was refusing to produce documents relating to the termination of the other lab workers. This week, the judge ORDERED Dignity to provide those records.

    Finally, in a common tactic used by company lawyers, Dignity was threatening to send a subpoena to our client’s current employer in Texas, under the guise of needing independent verification of salary, benefits, etc., because somehow the documents we provided and offered to provide just were not sufficient enough. The judge said that Dignity’s lawyer can issue the subpoena, but only if they significantly narrow their request. Either way, it’s certainly the belief of this Houston Employment Lawyer and Miami Employment Lawyer  that this is an intimidation move to scare workers from filing lawsuits, lest their new employer discover that they sued their prior employer.

    For further information, I can be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800, or by email at bruce.coane@gmail.com

    • Eva 12:37 pm on February 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      When visiting blogs, i generally discover an excellent content just like yours.
      Very good job on this post! I enjoy how you presented your facts and
      the way you made it interesting and easy to understand.

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 4:56 pm on December 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Pollo Tropical sued for Sex Discrimination and Retaliation-Company Claims Fired for Serving Expired Chicken 

    This has been a busy month at our law firm, filing employment discrimination lawsuits. A little over a week ago, I filed a lawsuit on behalf of my client against his former employer, Pollo Tropical. The lawsuit states that my client was discriminated against because of his sex and fired in retaliation for complaining about it.

    My client worked as a General Manager of a Pollo Tropical store in Pearland, Texas. While all seemed to be going well with his job performance and while recent store audits scored over 90%, my client states that he noticed that female managers were getting reviews and raises but he was getting neither. When he complained to Angel Cortes his District Manager and then to Chad Brown in the HR department, it is alleged that they made excuses but did not take any steps to equalize the situation.

    Instead of treating my client with the same level of fairness by giving him a review and a raise, the company, through Cortes, chose to fire him, the lawsuit alleges.  When my client asked Angel Cortes why he was fired, Cortes says it was due to policy violations, according to the lawsuit.

    When my client of this Houston Employment Lawyer and Miami Employment Lawyer confronted Mr. Brown about his termination, Brown says that he was fired “for changing the dates and labels of raw marinated expired chicken and thereby serving expired chicken to customers of Pollo Tropical,” according to the lawsuit. My client was aghast at such an allegation and denies that he did any such thing. If Pollo Tropical was serving expired chicken to its customers, my client denies having any knowledge of it, and says that the company was making up a reason to fire him in retaliation for complaining about discrimination.

    The lawsuit is pending in the U.S.District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and the first hearing will be coming up in April of 2018. A jury trial is likely to be scheduled for sometime in 2019.

    For further information, I may be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800, or by email at bruce.coane@gmail.com



  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 8:26 pm on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Wrongfully Fired for Sex Harassment? 

    On the front page of today’s newspaper, I was reading an article about Matt Lauer of the Today Show, who was the latest well-known man fired for sex harassment. Who will it be tomorrow? No doubt, Human Resource professionals are furiously investigating these claims on a daily basis.

    I have handled sex harassment cases for many years and I have represented men and women who were harassed, and I have also represented the alleged harasser.

    There was a time where this Houston Employment Lawyer would send my female clients for a polygraph exam, if the harasser was denying that he did any of the things he was accused of.  Nowadays, that seems unnecessary, as employers and their Human Resources departments are all jumping on the bandwagon of weeding-out harassers immediately. And, of course, we live in different times where there is typically compelling electronic evidence such as text messages, instant messages, emails, etc.

    I met with a potential client last week who lost his job because a co-worker said he touched her inappropriately.  The man professed his innocence, yet he was terminated the same day.

    It seems that many employers are taking a zero tolerance view and that if anyone complains about sex harassment, the alleged harasser will be quickly fired.

    Earlier this year, I got to meet the woman who wrote the book on sex harassment, Gretchen Carlson, formerly of Fox News. In her book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, she gives encouragement to women who are victims of sex harassment.



    The federal laws that deal with sex harassment come from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and they allow victims of sex harassment to bring legal claims in court, after they first complain to the EEOC. Many of these cases are settled out of court and confidentiality agreements prevent victims from discussing the facts.

    At our Houston employment lawyer firm and also at our Miami employment lawyer firm, we represent victims of sex harassment, as well as victims of false harassment claims.

    For further information, I can be reached at bruce.coane@gmail.com or 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800.

    • HeKen Surovek, Resltor 10:53 pm on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Your posts are always current on topic. Appreciate your share g the legal aspect & civil rights data.
      Wishing you and yours a Happy Hanukkah!

    • Coane and Associates,PLLC 10:58 pm on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you! Happy Holidays.

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 3:42 pm on July 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Immigration Arrests and Raids and Employment Law Update 

    Here is a video of a speech that I gave a few months ago to an overflow crowd in Houston. I was talking about my predictions for immigration raids of churches, hospitals, synagogues, mosques and other places where immigration officials historically would not visit.

    While the video is several months old, some of my predictions are already coming to fruition, where spouses of Americans with no criminal record are being arrested and deported and where according to some of my clients, immigration officials are “rounding-up” foreigners in some of the smaller, more rural areas. With my 30+ years of experience in immigration law, I am uniquely situated to advise individuals, companies and non-federal government agencies on how our laws work and exactly what is going on right now. I have been staying very busy, lately, doing just that.

    In other matters at our office the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to visit with clients from some of the smaller countries of Africa, such as Equatorial Guinea, Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta) and Angola. In addition to providing legal advice to these clients, this Houston immigration lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer always finds it interesting to talk to them about their culture, language, and other aspects of their country.

    On the employment law and employment discrimination law front, I am currently in Phoenix, Arizona for two days of depositions. My client sued Dignity Health in Phoenix, alleging he was fired due to sex discrimination and retaliation. The essence of his allegations are that his boss was sleeping with his co-worker, that Dignity knew about it and allowed it to continue, and when there was a lack of funding, his supervisor chose to keep his female co-worker (the one sleeping with the boss) , rather than my client. In addition to the two days of depositions, I have been enjoying the regional food, the dry heat and 100+degree temperatures, and the sight of all the exotic desert flowers and cactus plants.

    Lastly, it has been a busy month for court hearings on our employment discrimination cases. We went to court twice this month in our client’s case against Wells Fargo, where our client claimed race discrimination, and the bank sued her back for alleging stealing money from the vault. We also had a court hearing in our client’s case against Hobby Lobby, where he alleges he was fired in retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination.

    For further information, I may be reached in Houston at 713.850.0066 or in our Miami office at 305.538.6800. I can also be reached at bruce.coane@gmail.com.

    • Helen Surovek 6:18 pm on July 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      LOVE the great work you do, Bruce. Had I had the privilege of higher education, I would have been doing something similar…helping those in need of help. With the know-how to
      maneuver through the maze of our wonderful legal system. Keep up the good work~!

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 9:05 am on July 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Race Discrimination Case Against Kroger and Use of word "Nigger" 

    I am preparing for a jury trial in Houston which starts on August 7, 2012. The case involves race discrimination against Kroger, the big supermarket chain in Houston.

    Racial Discrimination

    photo: you-can-learn-basic-employee-rights.com

    Our client claims that she was constantly called “nigger” by her white co-worker. She says that she complained to management and they rarely, if ever, took action. They let him continue working there, she alleges, because he was friends with the store manager.

    As I prepare for trial, I was discussing how many times we think the word “nigger” will be mentioned in the trial. We even talked about substituting the phrase, “the “N” word”, rather than saying the racial slur over and over again. I’ve had sex harassment and race discrimination cases where other slurs were used, and I always avoid repeating them, but rather say the “f-word” or the “b-word”.

    Wondering what my friends in the blogosphere and on FB think. Should we keep saying “nigger” throughout the trial, or should we say “the N word”, instead. Somehow I think the jury will grow tired, and maybe even offended by the constant repetition of the word “nigger”.


    About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law and immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at houstonlaw@aol.com, 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

    • Anonymous 1:09 am on August 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Please use “The N Word” in the courtroom. This blog is very difficult to read because I found the language offensive. If I were a juror and the attorney kept saying the word you used above I would find it difficult to be sympathetic to your cause. Good luck to you and your client.

    • Jill 3:07 am on December 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      What did you end up doing and what was the outcome. I would say it once when repeating verbatim the statement of the person who uttered it. I would refrain from using it again and use the n-word in other instances.

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 3:18 am on April 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Mike Childs, Raymond Wei   

    Kroger Files Motion to Dismiss Race/Sex Harassment Lawsuit 

    In a case that our law firm has been handling, the employer, Kroger, has filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. They claim that there are insufficient disputed facts to warrant a trial. The case is pending in US District Court in Houston and is set for trial this summer.

    In this case, our client filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming that a co-worker harassed her because she is black and female, by among other things, calling her a “nigger.” Store managers, Raymond Wei and Mike Childs, have signed statements on behalf of Kroger’s motion.

    Co-manager of the Kroger store (in Sugar Land, Tx), Raymond Wei, verifies that our client complained about a co-worker using curse words at her, and he notes that a customer verified our client’s complaint. Store manager Mike Childs has verified that the offending employee was disciplined at least one time, yet, his employer still seeks dismissal of the case.

    In their motion, Kroger claims that our client cannot prove sufficient facts to win, so the judge should dismiss the case. This is a common defense tactic in almost every discrimination case. Unfortunately, many times a judge will dismiss the case without the employee-victim ever getting their day in court for a trial. In this case, we plan to respond to the motion with compelling evidence, so hopefully the judge will let our client proceed to trial before a jury.


    About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at houstonlaw@aol.com, 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 6:08 pm on June 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , EEOC investigation, ,   

    Gay Man Pursues Sexual Discrimination Claim 

    Today, my client will be participating in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation concerning his charge of discrimination. We filed his charge with the EEOC claiming discrimination based on sex.  While normally there are no laws preventing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, in this case, his supervisor suspected that the client was gay, kept asking questions about his family, etc, and fired him after 6 weeks on the job because he “was not the right fit,” and things were “not working well.”   The client is claiming sex discrimination, as the basis to enable the EEOC to investigate. Following today’s investigatory process, there will be the opportunity for mediation to see if there is a way to amicably resolve this case.

    • Allison Welsch 7:41 pm on June 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      How often does that occur in the work place?

      • Coane & Associates 12:52 pm on June 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I have had this type of issue many times, so, unfortunately, it is probably a common occurance.

    • Raj Makajanani 1:40 pm on June 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Did you case get resolved, and what was the outcome?

      • Coane & Associates 12:50 pm on June 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        The investigation at EEOC continues, and when they are done, we can take the case to court, unless the case settles, of course.

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