FL Stock Clerk Sues over Heavy Lifting Policy

March 26, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A former store room clerk for a Florida company has sued his ex-employer for gender discrimination for not requiring women to lift heavy equipment as their male counterparts are mandated to do.

The federal anti-workplace discrimination agency reviewed Julio Vizcaino’s case against Caterpillar Logistics and found enough validity to the allegation to allow the 45-year-old Vizcaino to sue under Florida’s Civil Rights Act, according to a Miami Herald news report.

Caterpillar should have either required its women employees to do heavy lifting or created a new job category with people paid additional compensation to handle the heavier equipment, said Scott Behren, a lawyer representing Vizcaino . Vizcaino said he earned about $13.80 an hour before leaving Caterpillar.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found ”reasonable cause” that Caterpillar discriminated against its male workers, the Herald report said. EEOC Miami district director Federico Costales wrote to Caterpillar: “Only the men are given the heavy lifting assignments due to their sex.”

”I felt it was unfair,” Vizcaino told the Herald. “We all get paid the same, and we all get trained the same.” Vizcaino quit Caterpillar in April, four months after filing the EEOC complaint and more than six years at the company.

The company rebuffed the EEOC’s settlement attempts insisting it was not guilty of the discrimination allegations. ”We are confident that we did not do anything wrong and did not discriminate against Mr. Vizcaino based on his gender,” a Caterpillar human resource manager wrote the EEOC last June after the agency’s finding, according to the Herald.

According to the news report, Caterpillar distributes parts and other products for its business and customers in Florida and South and Central America from the 425,000-square-foot building, where about 300 people work. The company, one of the largest third-party logistics providers in the world, is a unit of Caterpillar Inc. – the Illinois-based construction-equipment manufacturer.

Vizcaino, who started working at Caterpillar in 1999, was typically assigned to various sorting areas, moving from sorting parts as small as washers and screws to bigger items like engine filters and tractor edges, the Herald said.

When Vizcaino complained about the female workers not being required to handle heavy equipment, he was told he was needed to do the work or he had the skills.