On March 16, 2011, a Northern California woman filed a nationwide class action in the United States District Court in San Francisco charging that John Deere’s landscaping division discriminates against women who seek entry level customer service, sales and shipping and receiving positions. The case is entitled Artis v. Deere & Co. (Civ 10-05289 WHA). The suit charges Deere, a leading farm, agricultural equipment and landscaping company with over 50,000 employees, with systematically denying such jobs to women and discouraging them from even applying. It seeks an order requiring Deere to adopt nondiscriminatory policies, and for lost pay and punitive damages.
The plaintiff, Holly Artis, 33, of Modesto, California, applied for a customer service position at Deere’s landscaping facility in Livermore, California. Despite having over five years of sales and service experience, she was told that Deere “frowned upon hiring women,” and was denied the job. She was falsely told that the position had been cancelled, when in fact it was given to a man with less experience.
Deere is a male-dominated company—nearly all senior executives and most hiring managers are male. All 19 executives in the equipment and landscaping divisions are male. Women hold only 2.2% of sales jobs at larger landscaping facilities, even though the industry average is over 50%. In California, women hold only 1.6% of the customer sales and service position for which Artis applied.