States and the federal government have laws that prohibit governmental and private organizations from discriminating against people because of their sex or gender. Employers are prohibited from discriminating or harassing individuals on the basis of sex under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1963 (Title VII), state laws, and the Equal Pay Act.
- All Government and Federal Employees
- All Employees working for Employers with 15 or more employees
- Both women and men
Equal Pay for Equal Work Act
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires employers to pay employees doing the same job equally regardless of their sex. To support a claim under the Equal Pay Act, you must show that a woman and man:
- Work in the same place
- Do the same job
- Are not being paid equally
If an employer can demonstrate a legitimate basis for the pay difference, then you may not be able to establish a claim for gender or sex discrimination.
When Is Harassment Prohibited Under Gender and Sex Discrimination Laws?
Harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, sexual conduct or other verbal or physical action of a sexual nature. An employer may be responsible for harassment if co-workers or supervisors maintain a work environment that is overly sexual. An employer, co-worker or supervisor also cannot harass you because you do not conform to the typical male or female stereotype. An employer is also required to keep the employment environment free from sexual harassment. An employer may be held liable even when a supervisor or co-worker is the harasser.
Other Employment Activities Prohibited by Gender and Sex Discrimination Laws include:
- Retaliation - an employer cannot take adverse employment actions against you because you filed a gender or sex discrimination claim or openly opposed a discriminatory policy
- Employment advertisements - an employer cannot limit a job opportunity to one sex without a legitimate business purpose
- Other - employment activities such as hiring and firing
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. The PDA applies to all terms and conditions of employment. See also Family and Medical Leave.
Do I Need an Attorney?
A gender and sex discrimination claim against an employer is difficult to pursue without an employment lawyer because of the specifics necessary to prove the intent to discriminate. Additionally, many states and the federal government have certain procedures an employee must follow to file a gender or sex discrimination claim that can be quite confusing without an attorney. An experienced lawyer is also essential to any employer who is being sued for gender or sex discrimination.