Fighting Sex Discrimination in the Workplace

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: December 13, 2018

Sex discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of an employee or applicant primarily based on their gender. Sex discrimination also includes being treated less favorably due to someone’s non-conformity to conventional gender norms as well as being harassed due to an applicant or employee’s affiliation with an organization or group associated with certain sex or genders. Gender discrimination in the workplace is still prevalent despite being barred by a number of laws, with women again being the usual victims. In a 2017 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 42% of women respondents have said that they have experienced gender discrimination at least once in their careers. In the same survey, only 22% of men have admitted to experiencing sex discrimination.

With this type of discrimination still being alarmingly common in today’s work environments, having the proper knowledge about this matter is crucial. You or someone you know may have already been experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace. Therefore it is necessary to be informed of the different forms of sex discrimination and avenues where they can occur to combat it.

Examples of Sex Discrimination

Gender discrimination can appear in a variety of forms and can sometimes be complicated to identify. This difficulty is why some cases or instances of sex discrimination are left unreported. To help alleviate this concern, below are some forms of sex discrimination in employment situations that can happen during all stages of the employment process. To know further about the other manifestations of sex discrimination or to know whether your current situation can be categorized as gender bias, it is best to contact a proper employment discrimination attorney.

Job Position Bias

Employers are often caught up in stereotyping potential employees based on society’s gender norms. Examples of these are when certain positions such as secretaries or receptionists are pigeonholed for women while physical, blue-collar occupations such as construction and security jobs are strictly delegated to men. In reality, all employers should base their hiring off of the applicants’ capabilities and not base it off their sex or gender.

Sexist Interview Questions

During a job interview, all questions for applicants must be similar regardless of their gender. Inquiries must also be only related to a person’s ability to perform the job properly. In other words, sexist questions and remarks are off-limits during interviews. Questions that ask if a woman has children or has intent to have children are all unrelated to the job description and conditions of employment and are therefore illegal.

Discriminatory Wages

One of the most common examples of gender discrimination is unequal pay which has always been a problem of women in the workplace. Although the gender wage gap conditions have considerably improved over the past years, inequality with salaries persists, with men still earning more than women. Employees of equivalent training, experience or of the same position should have equal pay regardless of their gender identity.

Promotional Bias

Promotional bias or “the glass ceiling” refers to the limited ceilings specific genders have when it comes to climbing the workforce ladder. These glass ceilings are often imposed on women. In all cases, promotion or non-promotion should always be based solely on the abilities and job capabilities of an employee regardless of their sex or gender.

Terminations

The firing of employees should also be treated without bias in all cases. Typically, women are the victims of these gender-motivated terminations and are common occurrences in male-dominated industries. In these industries, women are laid off to appease clients who are more comfortable in dealing with male higher-ups. Non-terminations are also prevalent in these industries especially in instances when an individual is not reprimanded amidst sexual complaints.

Laws Combating Sex Discrimination

Many laws were already put in place to combat these forms of gender discrimination in the workplace and to ensure equality among all employees. These laws encourage identifying and reporting gender discrimination cases and are also for fighting other forms of discrimination.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is a state law that protects employees in California against discrimination. Under this law, employees and applicants are protected from several kinds of discrimination such as gender, race, religion, disability, and age to name a few. The FEHA is enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and applies to employers with five or more employees.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

This federal law protects employees of private, state, and local government employers as well as members of labor organizations, employment agencies, employment unions with 15 or more employees. Similar to the FEHA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 also prohibits discrimination of race, sex, color, religion, and nationality.

Fighting Gender Discrimination

Fighting gender discrimination is always the right course of action since robust and comprehensive laws are already in place to support claims. Upon experiencing what you believe is gender discrimination, it is important to write down what happened along with the specifics such as the time, dates, places, people, and possible witnesses. Taking note of the details of the incident are important evidence should you file a case. Below are some of the avenues a gender discrimination victim may take.

Report to Your Human Resources Officer

In most cases, companies have personnel manuals that explicitly state the prohibition of discrimination. Consider reporting sex discrimination incidents to your human resources officer if possible.

When reporting to your human resources officer, it’s important to submit a written report of your complaint as well as write down your company’s response to it. Copies of sent and received emails, text messages, as well as recorded voice messages, are important to keep as they might prove useful in the future.

File a Complaint With a Government Agency

When you think that your company’s internal actions did not solve the problem or did not help you in any way, bring these workplace sex discrimination allegations to government agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the FEHA.

Keep in mind that under federal law, a complaint with the EEOC should be filed within 300 days of the discriminatory act. Furthermore, filing a complaint with the proper government agencies is also required if you decide to file a lawsuit against your employer.

File a Lawsuit

Most laws first require a formal complaint with the proper government agencies before a lawsuit can be filed. If cases are won, claims that can be attained are money damages and reforms to the gender discriminatory working conditions of the company. You may also retrieve your job if you were previously fired or forced out on leave. Therefore to have an excellent chance to win a gender discrimination lawsuit, it is important to have experienced gender law attorneys aiding you throughout the process.