Gender Discrimination Lawyers
Locate a Local Employment Lawyer
The concept of gender has become more nuanced over the past several decades. Gender identity and traditional gender roles are an area of increasing discussion in America. Unfortunately, employers still discriminate against workers who do not conform with traditional gender stereotypes. In many cases, this discrimination is illegal.
What Is Gender Discrimination?
Gender discrimination occurs when an employer makes an adverse employment action due to a worker’s or job applicant’s gender or gender identity. Discrimination may occur at any stage of the employment process—from hiring, to promotions and compensation, to termination.
For many years, gender discrimination was associated with sex. (In other words, discrimination was based on a worker’s female or male identity.) However, as our workforce demographics have changed, the concept of gender has also changed.
Today, gender discrimination focuses on employees who do not follow traditional gender expectations. This may include:
- A woman who plans to return back to a high-profile position after maternity leave,
- A man who needs a flexible schedule for parenting or other caregiving obligations,
- A worker who is perceived as too feminine or masculine, or
- A member of the LGBT community.
Increasingly, federal, state, and municipal laws offer protections against gender-based discrimination.
Is Gender Discrimination Illegal?
State, federal, and municipal (or city-based) laws all have different gender-based protections. It is important to understand the rights (and responsibilities) that your community’s laws provide.
An employer typically cannot:
- Ask a job applicant about his or her gender or gender identity,
- Ask a job applicant if he or she is married, has children, or other issues involving family planning,
- Penalize someone for taking FMLA time, or
- Create a hostile or harassing environment based on gender.
If you have suffered an adverse employment action for any of these reasons, you may have a claim against your employer.
Employers may defend their actions by proving that:
- The employment decisions were based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), or
- Accommodation would cause undue hardship.
- A BFOQ must be a legitimate and essential requirement of a job. (For example, gender may be a BFOQ for a changing room attendant job.)
The Civil Rights Act provides broad protections against gender-based discrimination. The EEOC interprets the Act’s ban on sex discrimination to include protections for gay, lesbian, transgender, and gender fluid workers. (Federal LGBT legislation has been proposed, but has not yet passed). Some states and cities have introduced additional protections for gender identity and sexual orientation.
What Is Harassment?
Gender-based Harassment may involve:
It is illegal to harass an employee because of his or her gender or gender identity. If you are the victim of harassment, you should document the offensive behaviors and report them to human resources. If the harassment does not end, you may have a claim against the employer.
What Is Caregiver Discrimination?
Caregiver discrimination occurs when an employer penalizes a worker or job candidate because of his or her childcare or other caregiving responsibilities. While it is frequently directed at women, men are also subject to caregiver discrimination.
While federal law does not specifically prohibit caregiver discrimination, there are state and federal laws that offer some protections. These laws include the Civil Rights Act, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA).
What Is Weight Discrimination?
Data shows that overweight workers are often paid less than their thinner counterparts and may struggle to find work due to bias. Weight discrimination seems to overwhelmingly impact women.
Unfortunately, there are very few laws that address weight discrimination. If you are a victim of weight discrimination, you may have claims under the ADA, state or municipal laws, or based on a theory of disparate impact.
Discrimination Based on Clothing
Clothing-based discrimination may come in multiple forms. It may be illegal for a company to:
- Prohibit a woman from wearing religious items (such as a hijab or tichel),
- Require women to wear skirts, dresses or other traditionally female attire, or
- Prohibit LGBT workers from wearing clothing that associates with their gender identity.
If you are concerned that your employer’s dress code requirements violate your civil rights, contact the EEOC, a local anti-discrimination agency, or an employment lawyer. They can help you determine whether the policies are discriminatory.
Can a Lawyer Help With a Gender Discrimination Claim?
A gender discrimination claim may involve federal, state, and municipal laws. You also must follow a strict complaint process—which typically requires an administrative complaint before filing a lawsuit. An employment lawyer can help you evaluate your claim, choose the correct legal remedy, and guide you through the claims process. A lawyer may also be able to help you negotiate a settlement.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 09-22-2016 01:24 PM PDT
Link to this page