Combating Gender Discrimination In The Workplace

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: October 1, 2018

When employees are treated unfairly because of their gender, this is considered gender discrimination. And while there are existing laws to combat gender discrimination in the workplace, it remains a rampant issue.

Gender discrimination largely impacts women. A 2017 survey conducted by the nonpartisan fact tank Pew Research Center revealed that 42 percent of working women in the United States say they’ve faced discrimination in the workplace as a result of their gender. The same survey also showed that over 20 percent of women earned less than men who performed the same job.

Meanwhile, the LGBT community is statistically one of the most discriminated groups in the world today, according to surveys conducted by UCLA’s Williams Institute. More than 20 percent of LGBT employees say they’ve been subjected to discrimination in the workplace.

Gender discrimination should be addressed because it can negatively impact an individual’s mental and emotional health, as well as their self-esteem. According to researchers from UCLA, discrimination can harm areas in the brain where decision-making and planning are processed.

To combat gender discrimination, understanding what it is and which laws apply are essential.

What Is Gender Discrimination?

In law and daily language, the terms “sex” and “gender” are believed to be interchangeable. However, social scientists have provided distinctions for each term: “Sex” refers to the biological identity that differentiates male from female, while “gender” refers to the cultural attributes of “maleness” and “femaleness” that a person associates with.

Sex or gender discrimination means treating certain employees differently because of their sex or gender identity. It’s important to note that this type of discrimination must negatively affect one’s work for it to become unlawful. When sex or gender discrimination occurs in the workplace, below are the areas of one’s career that could get affected:

  1. Hiring
  2. Pay
  3. Job classification
  4. Promotions
  5. Firing
  6. Benefits

Another form of gender discrimination is sexual harassment. This type of gender-based discrimination may be difficult to identify because of its subtlety. Harassed employees may still get the right benefits or have equal pay. However, these employees may experience constant inappropriate sexual behavior and advances at work that prevent them from performing their jobs properly. Understand that both men and women have the right to perform their jobs without any demands of relationships and communication that are sexual or romantic in nature.

Understand What Gender Workplace Discrimination Laws Say

Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that provides protection to individuals who are experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace. This law is applicable to employers that have 15 or more employees. Title VII also applies to government institutions, public and private colleges or universities, labor organizations, and employment agencies.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), on the other hand, is a federal law that amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. This law prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of sex.

Understand that both laws provide individuals protection from unfair compensation due to gender discrimination. This includes salary, benefits, bonuses, overtime payments, and more. But take note that Title VII has broader coverage as it tackles more forms of discrimination, while the EPA only provides protection against wage discrimination based on sex.

Another law that can help protect you is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which forbids sex and gender discrimination in employment. This law encompasses most types of sex discrimination. The FEHA also applies to government employers, private employers, employment agencies, state licensing boards, and labor organizations with five or more employees. But for sexual harassment, the prohibition is wider and applies to all types of employers with one or more employees.

Know How to Fight Gender Workplace Discrimination

Because gender discrimination is against the law, know that you can do something about it:

  1. Following an incident, immediately make a written note of it. This should include the date, place, time, and names of possible witnesses of the incident. Encourage co-workers, especially those who were also victims, to do the same and include what they witnessed.
  2. Report the incident to your employer and talk to your human resources administrator so that you can clarify your company’s policies against gender discrimination.
  3. Document the events properly by reporting the problem in writing and what you want to happen. Make sure to keep copies of emails, text messages, and other documented forms of communication.
  4. Request to have a copy of every document that you’ve signed when you became an employee and review them. California laws dictate that you have a right to acquire copies of those documents.
  5. File a complaint about your discrimination incident with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This is a prerequisite if you wish to bring your case to state or federal court. It’s essential to do this without delay because, under Title VII, the EEOC only allows discrimination charges that have been filed 300 days from the time of the incident.

Seek Redress With the Help of Mesriani Law Group

Many cases of sexual harassment go unreported because employees are afraid of the consequences or lack knowledge about their rights. Know that gender or sex discrimination is not the only aspect that is unlawful, as retaliation from employers after reporting such cases is also illegal.

To properly handle this situation and obtain maximum compensation for your pain and suffering, look for lawyers in Los Angeles, California, with experience in employment discrimination and sexual harassment. Many employers have the resources to hire top lawyers, so your best option is to fight back with proper legal representation.