The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Federal Agency Charges Guardsmark With Denying Female Security Guards Certain Job Assignments

HOUSTON – A Houston branch of Guardsmark, LLC, a Delaware Corporation doing business in Texas, violated federal law by reassigning a class of female security guards based on customer preference for male guards, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:09-cv-03062, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division) charges Guardsmark, LLC with subjecting Aneda T. Birkner, Danielle R. Jones and other female employees to unequal terms and conditions of employment by assigning or reassigning them as security guards based on customer preference for male security guards in violation Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After reportedly learning that certain clients did not want any female security guards assigned to their premises, Guardsmark reassigned Birkner, Jones and several other female guards to other assignments. These new assignments often paid less and were located further away, thereby causing inconvenience for them.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, section 703(e), allows overt sex-based employment decisions only where sex is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for the job in question. Here, this defense does not apply, as Guardsmark had no valid reason to reassign the female security guards, the EEOC said.

The EEOC seeks an injunction, back pay with pre-judgment interest, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, in amounts to be determined at trial.

“This action sends the message that our agency will continue to prosecute employers who subject their female employees to sex discrimination,” said R.J. Ruff, district director of the EEOC’s Houston District Office.

“It is disappointing when able workers are denied work because of their gender,” said EEOC regional attorney Jim Sacher. “The EEOC will aggressively seek redress for the injuries suffered by these women.”

According to company information, Guardsmark, LLC, is incorporated in Delaware, headquartered in New York City, and its main administrative service center is in Memphis, Tennessee. It is “engaged in the business of providing uniformed security personnel to businesses and other organizations throughout the United States.” Guardsmark employs approximately 19,000 people in 155 branch offices. The class of women affected in this suit was employed in “Greater Houston Branch 13.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at

This page was last modified on September 24, 2009.

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