THIS month brought news that could alter the landscape of American pregnancy. But the tests also raise ethical questions: whether couples will abort fetuses of an unwanted sex — as has happened in China and India, where boys now out girls.
Joseph Egan was flattered when his co-workers at Jenny Craig Inc. This is a good thing. Soon, other things began bothering Egan.
A female supervisor at the diet company asked him to fix her car, he says. Another female superior, he adds, confided that she had dreamed about him naked. It's like, "You're a guy.
So what? In the end, that is not how he took it.
Egan quit in February after four years as a salesman and manager. He is one of eight Massachusetts men formerly employed by Jenny Craig in the Boston area who are either suing the company in state court or have complained to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, alleging sex discrimination. Egan and two of the other men were notified by the commission last week that it had found probable cause of gender bias.
If attempts to mediate an agreement fail, the commission could, after a hearing, order Jenny Craig to pay damages if it finds the company discriminated. Some of the eight men say that they were denied promotions or fired because of their sex. All complain that they received poor treatment at the weight-loss company, such as unfavorable sales asments, orders to perform demeaning tasks, and a constant barrage of humiliating remarks.
Jenny Craig, a public company based in Del Mar, Calif. It issued a statement denying their allegations and calling them "frivolous," and has asserted before the discrimination commission that the men's performance was substandard. The company says it has a diverse work force with "men and women in all ranks," and advancement is "based only on demonstrated ability and performance.
Men filing these complaints say they get little sympathy, since in the view of a lot of women and minorities all of corporate America is a support group for white males. Also, many men don't understand why other men would take offense at women's suggestive sexual comments. One controller, Douglas P. Hartman of Aurora, Ill. Department of Transportation. In court documents, Hartman says that in addition to the gantlet, men were brought to a room where pictures of penises were displayed in various sizes and states of arousal. He also says that he and other male attendees were rated by women on a scale of one to 10 as to their perceived sexual attributes, in an apparent attempt to show men how women feel when men comment on such things as their breast size.
Because Hartman's allegations are the subject of litigation, the FAA says it is limited in how it can respond. In a statement, the agency says that it does not condone training involving physical harassment or offensive behavior.
Richard Mintz, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, says, "If these allegations are true. Deeply embedded in Jenny Craig company lore is how Ms. Craig, Women want sex Egan namesake co-founder, became interested in weight management after putting on 40 pounds while pregnant. The cover of the annual report has a photo of Ms.
Egan says that at his level, the company was nearly all women: women clients, women weight counselors, women managers, women networking with women.
It seemed to him that the women were always giving each other little gifts, or visiting in each other's offices, or whispering together. Who is pregnant? How to get pregnant? Some women who worked in management for Jenny Craig are sympathetic to some of the claims raised in Massachusetts.
Lisa Heney, a former sales trainer for Jenny Craig in the Boston area, says the eight men have a legitimate complaint. Donna Curio, who describes herself as a former area supervisor, says, "You just had to have this up, peppy, Jenny Craig-R-Us mentality, and they felt that the men just didn't fit in. Curio knew Tinkham and some of the other complainants while they worked for Jenny Craig and calls them "excellent, excellent men and employees. Tinkham, a burly Sunday school teacher, ed Jenny Craig as a program director in the Boston suburb of Saugus in after seeing an ad promising opportunities for "enthusiastic, outgoing people.
From the start, Tinkham says, there were s that men weren't wanted at Jenny Craig. He says one job interviewer, a former assistant regional manager, tried to discourage him, saying that the clientele was about 85 percent women and that it was "improbable" that a man would be able to relate to women with low self-esteem and other problems associated with overweight. Tinkham persisted.
Once on the job, he says, he got along Women want sex Egan the clients just fine. But Tinkham says some of his co-workers seemed to resent his presence, and his efforts to be promoted were rebuffed.
During a staff meeting at the company's Burlington, Mass. As the conversation ended and he turned to walk away, he says, one of the women in the crowd called out that the only way he could be promoted was if he got a sex-change operation or wore a push-up bra. Although this was meant as a joke, he says, it was part of a pattern of "men-bashing" at the company.
And if I was having a bad day, it was not uncommon for one of the women to say, "You must be having your period. Why don't you go take Fem-Cycle? Tinkham says he didn't get the same sales assistance that female program directors got. He says he applied for any management position he knew of, without success. Frustrated, he says, he took a job as a weight-loss counselor, a job that entails seeing clients once a week to check up on their diets.
Although it was a lateral move, he says he did it because he received assurances from management that the switch would make him more eligible for promotion.
Tinkham says he was told to stay on the road, traveling among eastern Massachusetts sites, to help program directors get and retain customers. But he says the position had no written job description, that he received no training for it and that being on the road made it impossible for him to maintain the base of clients necessary to earn commissions on the sale of Jenny Craig products. In Januaryhe says, he was told by Ms. Heney that he would be returned to the Saugus center as a weight-loss counselor.
But when Mr. Tinkham started to make appointments with clients in Saugus, his complaint with the state discrimination commission says, regional supervisor Susan Becker fired him without warning, claiming he didn't have the proper authorization to have his name in the appointments book.
Tinkham says he was told by Ms. Becker at the time that he was "upsetting women in the office because I was working too hard and had too many clients" and making too much money. Becker declined to comment.
Tinkham, who now works in a plastics factory, says Ms. Curio, who had hired him, later told him that "ever since day one" Jenny Craig's top management had not wanted him there. Curio now says. Curio calls Tinkham a "fabulous salesperson. Egan, a weight lifter and hockey player from blue-collar East Boston, ed Jenny Craig in as a program director in Burlington.
Excited by the opportunities, he says, he began to "eat, live and sleep Jenny Craig. Within a year he was managing his own center in Marlboro, Mass. He was later transferred to manage a center in Cambridge, just north of Boston. Egan says that Ann Noetzel, described in his state complaint as an assistant regional manager, once called him "just one man in a woman's company.
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Noetzel, who no longer works for Jenny Craig, had no comment, except to say she had a lower-ranking position than Egan claims. Egan says he felt like a token pair of biceps, because women frequently asked him to lift heavy boxes, carry trash, start their cars in the rain or shovel snow. When Ms. Heney was his supervisor, Egan says in his complaint, she asked him to fix her car, check the daily flavors at a local yogurt shop, or drive her around in his car at lunchtime so that she could secretly observe her boyfriend.
Heney says, "There's truth to everything Joe says, but some of it is exaggerated. She concedes she sometimes asked for yogurt information. But she denies that Egan was asked to help snoop on her boyfriend. Heney adds that she probably should have used "better discretion" in dealing with Egan. In the end, Egan says, he reed because the company treated and demoted him unfairly and curtailed his income and promotion potential.
He says he asked to be sent to corporate headquarters for training, which other managers at his level had received, but the request was denied, and local training was offered instead. After Egan was transferred to Cambridge, Jenny Craig opened a new center in nearby Brookline, siphoning away some clients and revenues. When revenues dropped, Egan says, he was blamed for it by Ms. Becker, who demoted him to assistant manager in Saugus. He says he also began to receive unrealistically high sales quotas.
Becker declined to respond. Paul Langley, another litigant, says what drives him the craziest about his time at Jenny Craig was when Erin Toomey, a female sales trainer, told him that he was sensitive, "for a guy.
Says Langley, a systems analyst for the state of Massachusetts, "Even now, my eyes light up and fire comes breathing out of my mouth. Toomey couldn't be reached through several of her old phone s at Jenny Craig.
The company won't say whether it still employs her. All Rights Reserved. Subscribe Manage my subscription Activate my subscription Log in Log out. Regions Tampa St. Letters to the Editor Submit a Letter. Investigations Narratives Pulitzer Winners.
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