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San Diego woman wins $100,000 in gender discrimination suit

A lifeguard in San Diego has won a gender discrimination lawsuit against the city after a jury agreed that she was not hired for a full-time job because she is a woman. She had worked as a seasonal lifeguard in San Diego for more than 10 years, but after being denied full-time work and training opportunities, she sued the city in 2006.

The jury made a unanimous decision in the gender discrimination suit last month and awarded $100,000 to the 37-year-old. During her career as a swimmer and lifeguard, the woman set many records in high school and even competed in the Olympic Trials. Although she was the fifth female lifeguard to sue the city of San Diego, she is the first to win a case.

The suit had charged discrimination based on the ratio of male lifeguards to female lifeguards in San Diego who held management positions -- 88 to 6, according to the suit. Lifeguards in those positions receive a full-time salary along with benefits.

The woman contended in her lawsuit that she could not get a promotion because she didn't have a certification in personal watercraft. But, she said, male lifeguards continuously delayed offering her the training and classes she needed to earn her certificate. Seasonal lifeguards also must have top-notch employee evaluations for three years, but her attorney said women never earned outstanding scores on their reviews.

After winning her case last month, the woman filed a petition requesting that the city of San Diego provide access to training for all lifeguards and that the city make appropriate changes to its policies regarding promotions.

Source: In These Times, "San Diego Lifeguard Wins Gender Discrimination Lawsuit," Kari Lydersen, Nov. 29, 2011