Despite decades of advocacy, gender discrimination remains a substantial problem in America. Indeed, this topic makes the news monthly, weekly, or even daily.
The lawsuits that these incidents generate often conclude with eye-opening court decisions. In 2022, two female ex-police officers won $1 million in court against the City of Philadelphia.
The Essential Guide to Gender Discrimination in the Workplace for Employees
Losing your job because of discriminatory practices has harsh and significant financial ramifications. However, there are also life-changing effects when you receive denials for new opportunities. This detailed guide will demonstrate what you can do about it by examining the law. Then, you can decide to hire a gender discrimination lawyer.
What Is Gender Discrimination?
Gender discrimination can have a long reach across the laws passed by legislators in the United States. Regardless, there are core components that you can identify.
Langston University offers a succinct definition that aligns with federal law. This type of discrimination involves unequal treatment that disadvantages people because of their gender.
This behavior is illegal in a variety of settings beyond the workplace. For example, people should not participate in this prejudicial practice in schools either.
Gender Discrimination Laws
It is worth considering federal and state legislation for gender discrimination. Your attorney may recommend one or the other based on your circumstances. They will most likely be the best guide to gender discrimination in the workplace for employees.
The first federal law to consider is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against you because of your gender. Among other details, it is the first federal law that says your boss or interviewer cannot treat you differently due to pregnancy.
The spirit of this law continues to be central to modern Supreme Court cases. Even protected classes not directly identified can start litigation based on this historic law. You will find one such example in the legal precedents provided below.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is another highly relevant and much-needed legal protection. Despite its long-lasting presence, data shows that women still do not receive the same pay as their male counterparts.
The reasons for this continuing discrepancy are a hot topic. Regardless of where you place the blame, the Pew Research Center found that women still made 84% of what men received as recently as 2020.
Massachusetts is one of the states that has been at the forefront of gender discrimination issues. State legislators passed a law in 2022 to protect gender-affirming healthcare and reproductive rights. This legislation makes providing less than the standard of care a violation of anti-discrimination laws. Moreover, the General Laws make it illegal for employers to refuse employment due to sex or gender identity.
Some states have been ahead of the curve since the early 2000s. Case in point, California passed legislation prohibiting discrimination against transgender citizens in 2004. At the time of publication, they have banned prejudicial decisions regarding housing and employment for nearly twenty years.
Regardless of where you live, gender discrimination issues have likely made front-page news. Furthermore, there has been a flurry of legislative actions in red and blue states. As a result, you need legal counsel that understands the recent changes to the law. Also, they will know which judges are more or less likely to sympathize with your circumstances.
Legal Precedents for Gender Discrimination
While laws may prohibit gender discrimination in the workplace, we should examine how the courts interpret them. The following sections cover landmark cases that attorneys cite during litigation.
Phillips v. Martin Marietta
This Supreme Court case was a significant stress test for civil rights legislation. In particular, it stressed the importance of equal opportunities for job candidates regardless of sex. Even more notably, it is a gold standard in legal precedent for gender discrimination lawsuits.
In 1966, Ida Phillips applied for a job working with preschool-age children. However, Martin Marietta Corp. insisted they only considered male applicants for these positions. Their assertions resulted in a lawsuit in a local district court that did not find favor with Phillips’ grievance. They reasoned that since an overwhelming majority of applications came from women, there wasn’t a case for bias. The appeals court affirmed their decision, but the Supreme Court took issue with these findings.
The highest court in the U.S. found violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Martin Marietta Corp. did not provide uniform qualifications for male or female applicants. Since their rationale depended on stereotypes about physical abilities, they violated Ida Phillips’ rights.
Altitude Express v. Zarda
We also need to go beyond the historical perspective to show how more recent litigation has changed the landscape. One of the most notable examples of how courts interpret the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is Altitude Express v. Zarda.
This case started with Zarda’s employment as a sky-diving instructor. In 2010, he would take women on their first tandem jump out of a plane. He would mention his sexual orientation to them to make them feel more comfortable strapping so close to him. One of his clients complained to management and claimed he used his sexual orientation as an excuse for groping. In response, Mr. Zarda’s boss terminated his employment with Altitude Express.
His lawsuit and appeals took ten years to reach the Supreme Court. But the jurists ruled in his favor on June 15, 2020. The 6 – 3 decision rested on an updated interpretation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the law did not mention homosexuals, they found that what happened to Mr. Zarda had a connection to his sex. The majority opinion also stated that, by extension, the same rights should apply to transgender persons.
What Can You Do About Gender Discrimination?
Fighting against gender discrimination is a global and complex struggle. Hence this guide to gender discrimination in the workplace for employees.
There are efforts in every corner of the earth to call out inappropriate behavior and increase diversity in positions of power. You can donate your time and money if you want to contribute to the broader efforts. You may also share your story with as many people as possible to inspire them to take action.
However, this article has a much tighter focus. What can you do as an individual employee or job applicant when you face discrimination? The sections that follow will provide some well-tested steps for you to follow.
Document, Document, Document
It is not unusual for gender discrimination disputes to devolve into “he said, she said” arguments. Accordingly, you will need to have as much evidence as you can gather. The more you can document your assertions, the better your odds will be while taking legal action.
Emails and other correspondence can be a tremendous help. You should also retain employee handbooks and any other documents. When possible, having audio recordings or videos that support your assertions can go a long way with juries.
However, you need to be aware of the laws in your state. At the time of writing, 38 require permission to record a conversation. Some states, like Oregon, make it a crime to record someone without their consent.
Schedule a Consultation With an Attorney
Even the slightest mistake could hurt your pending lawsuit. Therefore, a consultation with a local gender discrimination lawyer should happen as soon as possible. They will evaluate your case and provide invaluable advice for what happens next.
Report Workplace Discrimination to the HR Department
This is a crucial step in this guide to gender discrimination in the workplace for employees. Once you secure your evidence, it is time to report the discrimination to the company’s HR department. If possible, schedule a time with a representative to discuss your complaint. While you may not be able to record this conversation, the notes you take about it are permissible in court. Additionally, you will want to keep track of any email correspondence.
File a Complaint With the EEOC
Companies will not wilt in the wake of their guilty feelings and offer you a settlement. Even if they did, the chances are good that they know they will have to pay more if you move on to the next steps.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has offices across the United States that can accept complaints. You can check their website or call 800-669-4000 to find these locations.
The content you send will be crucial to getting the EEOC on your side. Consequently, this dynamic is the perfect reason to hire an attorney. You will have peace of mind knowing that an expert in this field has presented your case.
Once they conduct their investigation, they will present their Letter of Determination. This document will either confirm your assertions or explain why the EEOC did not find evidence of discrimination.
Go Through Mediation or Go to Trial
The EEOC may offer to mediate the dispute between yourself and your employer. They offer this service as a way to avoid escalating to a lawsuit. Meanwhile, you may feel unsure about whether to accept a settlement offer.
The difficult choices you will have to make along the way are much easier when you have legal counsel. You can make the decision that makes the most sense to you based on expert advice. While many people will accept a settlement, some events call for litigation. For instance, the organization in question may not be as ready to negotiate as others.
Are You Ready to Meet With a Gender Discrimination Attorney?
After reading this guide to gender discrimination in the workplace for employees, you should have a fundamental understanding of gender discrimination law and its precedents. But what do you plan to do with this knowledge?
It is natural to feel hesitant about taking legal action against an employer or a company that gave you an interview. There are many unknowns, and most organizations have deeper pockets than yours. Nonetheless, these are challenges that anyone can overcome with when learning how to sue someone for gender discrimination with a highly-qualified attorney.