Federal Sex Discrimination Laws

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Are There Federal Laws That Protect Against Sex Discrimination?

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may not discriminate against employees or potential employees based on sex. This act is the largest piece of anti-discrimination legislation enacted by the U.S. government. Within the act, Title VII prohibits discrimination of employees on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin. Under Title VII’s prohibition of sex based discrimination, there is an included section that protects pregnant women from discrimination.

What Is Sex-Based Discrimination?

Sex discrimination involves treating or discriminating against someone differently or unfavorably because of their sex or gender such as harassing them. Sex discrimination also can involve treating someones differently or less favorably because of their sex or gender. Sex discrimination against a person because of their sex is a violation of federal law and could also lead to other sexual harassment violations.

The law also forbids sex discrimination by an employer when it comes to any aspect of employment or job related duties including firing, hiring, employment benefits, job assignments, terms and conditions of employment, layoff, and bonuses. It is also unlawful to harass an employee in the workplace because of their sex or gender. Harassment can include any unwelcome gesture or sexual advances that is not consented or allowed by the other person.

Can I Win a Federal Sex Discrimination Case?

In order to win a sex discrimination claim, you only need to show that sex was a “substantial factor” in your employer’s discriminatory actions. It only needs to be a substantial factor and does not need to be the only factor. It also doesn’t matter if the employer and discriminated employee are of the same sex.

Your employer may also have several defenses that may make it harder to win the sex discrimination claim. One defense employers can raise is “bona fide occupational qualification.” This means that if a person is incapable of doing a job because of their sex, Title VII does not prohibit seemingly discriminatory actions.

For example, if an employer needs models for a male clothing line and hires only men to be models, a woman who was denied a job as a model would not have a claim against the employer.

What Are Some Sex Discrimination and Employment Policies and Practices?

All employers that have employees must have special rules that govern around sex discrimination in the workplace. An employer policy or practice that applies to everyone would prohibit sexual discrimination and harassment within the workplace by employees and employers.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

It is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer if you have suffered sex discrimination. An experienced employment discrimination attorney can advise you on whether federal court would be right for you and can help guide you through the process of filing suit.

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Last Modified: 01-30-2017 09:44 PM PST

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