Thursday, June 01, 2006

Girls can't change tires

I love Schwabbies... have been a loyal customer for years.  I've always said the minute they go public I'm buying stock.   They'll come change a flat tire or jump a dead battery for free... simply with the understanding that you'll bring the car in to get a repalcement from them.  Their customer service is superb... always very fast, good prices.  Their annual free beef promotion is a nice plus, too. 

Shortly after I began patronizing their establishments, however I noticed (while admiring the taut, muscular thighs and buttocks of the guy squatting down to change my tire...) how they always have such kind, courteous, clean-cut and cute guys working the bays.  Being young and single (and always looking for a summer job) I thought "Hey!  Wouldn't it be great if I could get a job here and meet all these hardworking, adorable, sweet, mechanically-inclined guys?".  Then I noticed.  The only women I ever saw working at Schwabbies were behind the front desk.  They answered the phones (maybe).  Perhaps processed a credit card. Never saw one out in the bay. I thought about writing a letter, speaking to management...but knew it would be pointless.  If there *was* discrimination going on, surely somebody would have filed a complaint by now?  They're a HUGE tire chain, with "over 400 locations throughout the West!"

Over the years, that has never changed. Despite what pictures/disclaimers they have on their website,  The folks working the bays are a) all male; and b) all white.  Maybe Hispanic.  Perhaps the latter is a reflection of the predominantly all-white parts of town where I've lived, but I would not be surprised if that were the case even in more diverse locations.

So, it was no surprise when I saw this article today on our local news website: Les Schwab Tires hit with gender discrimination lawsuit : snip:

"In 1996, I started at the bottom and worked up to sales and management for an independently owned Les Schwab Tire Center. But when Les Schwab corporate took over this store, they demoted me to bookkeeper," Strange said. "When I asked about my prior position, I was told 'No gal in the company would ever make that kind of money. Gals should work in admin.' I stayed for almost two years trying to move back into sales and management, but the company refused to consider me for that kind of job."

The women's charges, which allege Les Schwab failed to hire female applicants into sales and service department jobs, form the basis of the lawsuit.

The sales and service department jobs positions -- which involve mounting, dismounting, repairing and rotating tires -- are held mainly by men and are required for entry into more lucrative management jobs, according to the lawsuit.

The agency said it found that Les Schwab has excluded women from those roles for more than 50 years and only recently promoted one woman to the position of assistant manager. "

It's about time.  Can't wait to see how this case goes.  Maybe it's about time I did write that letter....

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