Sexual Discrimination In Today’s Workplace

Although you might think that sexual discrimination at work is a thing of the past, studies have shown that sexual discrimination is still prevalent today. A recent study of working conditions showed that in 2011, women working full-time were paid on average only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. African American women and Latina women made even less when compared with white men.

In addition to being paid less, women also face workplace discrimination in the forms of sexual harassment and less hiring and promotion. Women can also face discrimination surrounding maternity leave and pregnancy. This is especially true in fields that have been dominated by men in the past.

Sexual Discrimination is Illegal

However, sexual discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Some of the laws that prohibit sexual discrimination at work include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex;
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963, a federal law which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment;
  • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, a state law that prevents sexual discrimination in the workplace.

Under those laws, it’s illegal to discriminate based on sex in any aspect of employment, including hiring and firing, compensation, job assignment, recruitment, testing, transfers, promotions, layoffs, benefits, disability leave, or other terms or conditions of employment. It’s also illegal to retaliate against an employee for filing a charge of sex discrimination.

Not all employers are covered by the state and federal laws outlawing sex discrimination. Almost all employers are covered by the Equal Pay Act, but only employers with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII. Employers only need to have five employees to be covered by the Fair Employment and Housing Act in California.

Although sexual discrimination is not uncommon, some conduct that appears as if it is illegal may not be. For example, if a hospital that is looking for a strong orderly to move patients and that hospital chooses a physically strong man over a petite woman, that is not illegal. Physical strength is a required part of the job. However, if the hospital chose a man over a woman because he was a man, and the two applicants were equally strong, that could be considered sexual discrimination.

Examples of Sexual Discrimination

There are many examples of sexual discrimination in the workplace. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives tens of thousands of complaints each year based on sexual discrimination at work. Some examples of sexual discrimination at work that actually occurred include:

  • A restaurant refused to allow pregnant women to serve as waitresses after their fifth month of pregnancy, depriving them of tips;
  • A pregnant woman was fired from a car dealership after asking for a six-week leave because of medical problems during her pregnancy, and the manager told her he would never hire another woman;
  • Women at a factory were refused bathroom breaks, while men were given positions in which bathroom breaks were readily available; and
  • A corrections facility required women to have a higher score on a written exam than men in order to get the position.

Sexual Discrimination Against Men

Although most people think of women as being discriminated against in the workplace, men can also be the victims of sexual discrimination. Victims of sexual discrimination at work can be entitled to a variety of remedies, including lost pay and compensation for lost benefits.

If Experiencing Sexual Discrimination Contact Liberty Law

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no one should be discriminated against at work because of his or her sex. If you’ve been discriminated against, call her at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She is eager to help victims of discrimination. If you are in the Oakland or San Francisco area, call her today.



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