Harassment in the workplace can have a negative impact on every element of a victim’s life. If you suspect your employer is engaging in an unlawful activity or permitting a hostile work environment to remain unchecked, we can help you through the measures you need to take to vindicate your rights.
The Equal Pay Act
Employers are prohibited by the Equal Pay Act (EPA) from discriminating against female employees based on their gender. Furthermore, this federal legislation requires employers to pay men and women the same wage for completing the same type of job.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the EPA, which is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
The Fair Labor Standards Act
This federal act is not gender specific; rather, it ensures that women have a maximum work week, a minimum wage, overtime compensation, and that child labor is prohibited. The abolition of child labor had a huge impact on women and provided more options in the workplace.
This federal act has been revised over 20 times in its history, demonstrating that it remains a fundamental aspect of all workers’ rights.
Civil Rights Act, Title VII
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as well as California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), outlaws discrimination against women in the workplace. It is also worth noting that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulates workplace discrimination.
The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Many employers fired women who became pregnant in order to save money on healthcare and sick leave. This federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant women or using their pregnancy (or the chance of becoming pregnant) as a factor in the hiring or employment processes.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
COBRA affects all employees, but it is especially critical for women since it mandates companies to retain health insurance coverage for a set length of time after a person leaves their employment. As a result, a woman who leaves her job for any reason will still be able to obtain health insurance for herself and her family.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA allows both men and women to take unpaid leave when a newborn child is adopted or delivered. If you work for a firm with more than 50 workers, you have the legal right to take FMLA leave if you have been there for a certain amount of time. This federal statute clearly benefits women who have recently given birth or adopted a child.
What is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is a form of job discrimination that is illegal under both federal and state laws.
Unwelcome behavior and policies based on an employee’s race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, sex (including pregnancy and maternity), national origin, age (40 or older), physical or mental handicap, or genetic information are considered harassment.
Harassment happens when:
- An individual is required to work in an offensive atmosphere as a condition of their employment; OR
- The objectionable behavior or conduct is severe enough to produce a hostile or intimidating work environment
It is critical to understand when such action becomes criminal. Simple slights, jokes, or minor annoyances, for example, that are not exceedingly offensive may not rise to the level of crime.
To be illegal, the behavior, conduct, or regulations must create a hostile work environment that no other reasonable person could accept.
Offensive jokes, racial or sexual slurs, epithets, or name-calling are common examples of a harassing or hostile work environment.
Threats, intimidation, or ridicule, either physical or verbal, personal insults, offensive objects or photographs, and any other behavior that directly interferes with an employee’s work performance can be considered harassment.
The victim doesn’t need to incur an economic injury or be fired to establish harassment or a hostile work environment. Furthermore, the victim does not have to be the direct target of the illegal behavior.
Employers are urged and sometimes mandated, to take proactive steps to prevent and eliminate workplace harassment. This involves proper training for all supervisors and managers on the law’s prohibitions on workplace harassment and the implementation of rules for quickly resolving these issues if they arise.
Implementing a complaint or grievance process through management or a human resources department is the greatest way to self-regulate and shield a corporation from liability.
Unfortunately, many businesses do not have the necessary tools, education, or training to prevent hostile work situations.
The most important thing for employees to know is that the law shields them from speaking their views and opinions about workplace conduct.
The law urges employees to report instances of harassment to the harasser immediately, stating that the behavior is unacceptable and must cease.
Employees are also encouraged to report harassment to management or human resources as soon as possible to prevent continuous illegal behavior.
Can I Be Discriminated against at Work Because I Am Pregnant?
No, pregnancy is not legal a basis for discrimination. The PDA prevents employers from discriminating against pregnant employees. The PDA covers every element of the job, including:
- Job Assignments
- Health coverage
- Taking time off from work
A woman who is unable to execute her job tasks due to a medical condition related to delivery or pregnancy is viewed as if she were temporarily incapacitated.
Does the Equal Pay Act Protect Women in the Workplace?
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) guards against gender discrimination in the workplace. It also states that employees must be paid equally for equal effort.
The following variables are considered in the evaluation of equal work under the EPA:
- Skill: Comparable experience, training, education, and aptitude will be considered required for a given profession.
- Effort: The amount of physical and mental effort necessary for the job will be assessed. The amount of obligation and accountability required for the job will also be considered.
- Working conditions: The comparable environment and hazards of the job are considered.
As a result, because each job description is unique, determining “equal work” will involve various elements. Courts will use these and other variables when possible to evaluate how equal pay should be applied.
Are There Sexual Harassment Laws to Protect Women in the Workplace?
Yes, the federal government has sexual and gender harassment legislation in place to protect applicants and employees from being harassed because of their gender or sex.
Sexual statements or actions are not required to constitute harassment. Instead, the harassment may include derogatory remarks about a person’s gender.
Can an Employee Sue for Verbal Harassment?
Yes, an employee has the right to pursue a claim for offensive comments. However, because an individual’s tone of voice is sometimes difficult to show, verbal harassment may be difficult to prove.
Although verbal harassment is described as offensive, defining what constitutes abusive language and what is less harmful can be difficult.
A claim of verbal harassment may be added to another claim in some situations because it can be used to illustrate an individual’s pattern of behavior when another, more serious accusation has happened.
Should I Consult an Attorney about Women’s Rights in the Workplace Laws?
The state and federal governments have laws protecting women’s workplace rights.
If you are a woman who is being harassed or treated unfairly at work because of your gender, you should speak with a discrimination lawyer to learn more about your rights as a woman in the workplace and how to enforce those rights.