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    9 Replies Latest reply on Dec 18, 2007 12:26 PM by irecruit


    LT Lawn Care Wayfarer
      I am going to meet with an HR professional about this but I figured I'd throw the question out to the community.

      I own a small landscaping company in Baltimore. During the winter months, I usually have a full time crew of 7 to 10 guys and during the spring and summer that number can balloon to as many as 30.

      I am not a chauvinist, however I have never had a female employee because I've never had a female apply until three weeks ago. I was looking for a landscape horticulturist because I have a contract with a new luxury development in Delaware and they expect top notch work. Anyway, I had a young woman apply, with a good background, decent experience but her salary expectations were much more than my small company could afford. So I ended up hiring a male, who didn't have her educational background, but had decent experience and salary expectations in line with what I could afford.

      So I contacted the young lady as a courtesy and told her how much I enjoyed talking with her but that I decided on another candidate and she accused me of being a sexist and said I'd here from her lawyer. She said she noticed in my office that there were no female employees and that one of my workers had a picture of a woman in a bikini at his desk.

      I haven't heard anything yet but I am concern none the less, as I run a small company and certainly can't afford the time or money to fight a lawsuit. I know the EEOC doesn't regulate or mandate hiring quotas for small firms like mine but it is still a scary thought.

      I'd love the community thoughts on this, again I have no problem hiring a woman, but I can't pay a woman a $55,000 salary when I was only anticipating on paying $40,000.
          DomainDiva Ranger
          First of all, being a woman I am thankful that you DID NOT hire matter what her experience. She has 'gender insecurity issues'. Let some other employer deal with her. I certainly would not. AS A WOMAN. (emphasis only).

          Second, you have a budget. I am sure your financial records will bear that out. Shes blowing smoke. Your office atmosphere is what it is...she has no right to come in as a prospective employee and try to change that. Let your attorney know all the details so he can open up a file and be ready IF anything happens. I seriously doubt that it will.

          Best, DDiva
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
            Ed O'Gee Adventurer

            Well I am glad the Diva chimmed in first as she always gives great answers.

            Two things, did you have the candidates fill out applications that included salary expectations?
            Anywhere in the job description did you mention salary?

            I agree with the Diva, I don't think she has a case, simply prove that her "written" salary expectations were out of line with what you could afford or planned to pay and I think you'll be fine.
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
              LUCKIEST Guide
              Good answer from Domain Diva. If you think about landscaping companies, most of the employees are male.
              Most of the time it is a male riding the lawn mover and doing the gardener, BUT NOT ALWAYS.
              You do see woman landscapers but they are in the minority.
              Many women own and run landscaping companies.
              When you talk "landscape horticulturist" you are evening out the odds.
              As far as your case, It sounds like you made the right decision for Many reasons.
              Keep a written record of the interview and that she accused you of being a sexist.
              Keep your lawyer informed. Hope she finds another job and does not seek legal action.
              • Re: VERY SERIOUS QUESTION
                Lighthouse24 Ranger
                Yes, serious question. I know this kind of thing can be troubling and distracting.


                Employers are generally subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if at any point they have 15 or more employees on the payroll (the employees don't have to be full time). So this would mean you. But there may be exceptions for a company like yours that employs what might be considered "seasonal workers" -- I'm just not sure. Please contact an employment attorney (one who specializes in employment law) in Maryland. Look for an attorney who normally represents the employer. He or she will know immediately if you have a concern. If the law doesn't apply to seasonal employees, and if there are no state of Maryland fair employment practices that you would be subject to, then the attorney will probably tell you there's nothing to worry about (and it won't cost you anything to relax and forget this).


                If you are subject to an employment law, the concern will likely center around the interview questions you asked. You are not required to hire a female, but if you asked questions during the interview that are illegal to ask or that could be perceived as discriminatory in nature, you may have opened the door to an EEOC complaint and/or lawsuit. So before you make the call, try to remember exactly what you asked the candidate when she was there. If have interview notes for her and other candidates, save them.


                The candidate you interviewed has two years to file a complaint, so don't simply assume that this might "go away." Call an employment attorney today and see where you stand.


                As for the bikini photo, that really doesn't belong in a modern workplace, especially if it could be seen by a non-employee, supplier, customer, or other visitor. If Title VII applies to you, it would constitute a "hostile work environment" (courts have already ruled on cases like that), so you'd be vulnerable there, too.

                Hope this helps, and that the attorney offers good news!
                  • Re: VERY SERIOUS QUESTION
                    LT Lawn Care Wayfarer
                    Thanks Lighthouse - I am exempt from Title VII because of the seasonal hiring of my business. I checked on this last year when I thought about expanding. My business can fluctuate from 10 to 25, back to 10 depending on the jobs I have and most of my summer work are contractors who are paid via 1099.

                    I have all the interview questions written and notes from the session of the 8 people I interviewed. I am talking to an HR professional on Monday (cheaper than a lawyer) to gauge if anything I may have said or done in the interview could get me in trouble. If so then I will contact a lawyer.

                    As for the bikini photo, it is absolutely harmless and I don't plan to change the culture of my company because of some quack. My guys work hard, they are a fun loving group, and everyone gets along. Now if I hired a woman and she wanted a picture of a male bodybuilder on her desk, so be it, as long as there is no nudity or perversion.

                    Thanks for your response to Ed, yes I have all the applications and they contain salary expectations, so I do have proof of the difference in her expectation versus the guy I hired.
                  • Re: VERY SERIOUS QUESTION
                    cazstaffing Newbie
                    I own a staffing company in Boston so know a little about what you're dealing with. I have to agree with the woman above who said you should be thankful that you didn't hire this woman. Once you hire someone, your could be liable, but since you did not hire because of her experience or salary req. your completely off the hook.

                    You can say a number of reasons why you didn't hire her..... her asking for too much money is one of them.

                    Very simple. Do not make it complicated. You did the right thing. Just think of what a headache she would have been!

                    Merry Christmas! Opps, can I say that?

                    I don't care, Merry Christmas and good luck with your business!

                      • Re: VERY SERIOUS QUESTION
                        LUCKIEST Guide

                        Two good answers, both Lighthouse and cazstaffing.


                        Happy holidays to you and all. Also hope to see more of your postings.


                          • Re: VERY SERIOUS QUESTION
                            irecruit Newbie
                            if you have the job description for the position you were hiring for, minimum qualifications you require that should also help you put together your case; also you can go to and you can get the prevailing wage in your area for the position you were hiring for; it would give you the range of wage for the position that is being paid by other employers in your area.

                            I hope this helps. Better prepared than do nothing.Also a good book to get on employment law, "Every Employee's Guide to the Law b y Lewin G. Joel III. It's in the perspective of people who are trying to get the employers for any type of violation, lawsuits, etc.

                        • Re: VERY SERIOUS QUESTION
                          BDS INC Adventurer
                          You've received some great responses so I'll just say good luck.