Discrimination based on sex or gender is illegal according to a number of federal and state laws. When an employer treats someone differently simply because they are a man or woman, the employer is illegally practicing sex or gender discrimination. This discriminatory treatment can take on a variety of forms. For instance, an employee may be fired, demoted, lose out on a promotion, or take a cut in salary due to his or her sex or gender.
The main federal law that addresses sex discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex as well as on the bases of a number of other protected categories such as race or disability. Beyond Title VII, state law and other federal laws may also provide yet another layer of protection from sex or gender discrimination.
Beyond Title VII
Two other federal laws address sex discrimination: The Equal Pay Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Equal Pay Act ensures that employers do not pay women different wages or salaries than other employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act more specifically protects pregnant workers from discriminatory treatment. Both of these laws and Title VII are enforced by a single federal agency called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
When an employee has been discriminated against based on sex or gender, the first step would be to make an official complaint to the EEOC. The EEOC would then investigate these claims under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and/or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, depending on the applicability. If the agency decides not to pursue an employee’s case, it issues a right to sue notice which gives the employee permission to then file a sex discrimination lawsuit in court.
Another form of sex or gender discrimination is sexual harassment. Under Title VII, sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, behavior of a sexual nature or even requests for sexual favors which significantly interfere with an employee’s ability to perform job duties or that create a hostile work environment. When the harassment is made a condition of the employee’s employment, this is called quid pro quo sexual harassment.
It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against someone who complains about sex or gender discrimination. This means that whether an employee decides to file a grievance through the company complaint process, file a charge with the EEOC or other government agency or to file suit in court, an employer may not take adverse action against the employee in response to these acts.
Sex or Gender Discrimination is Illegal
Whether your employer is harassing you on the job because you are a woman or you have experienced unwelcome sexual behavior at work, these acts are illegal. Our experienced attorneys are standing by to assist you with the successful resolution of your case.
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