Do you suspect that you may be the victim of gender discrimination? Looking to learn more about this all-too-common workplace phenomenon? In this article, we discuss a few of the most common forms of illegal gender-based discrimination — from unfair hiring practices, to harassment, to unequal pay, and much more. Along the way, we will also present a basic overview of your legal rights and the steps you can take to defend yourself from such unlawful conduct.
Under a truly fair system, job candidates would be chosen on the basis of their talents, professional preparation, and their potential to thrive in that position. Unfortunately, many people — including millions of women — have found that, in reality, hiring practices are subject to the profound personal biases of the interviewer. (As well as the systematic repression sometimes enforced by written or unwritten corporate policies.)
The good news is that a number of laws exist on the state, local, and federal levels protecting you from this type of unlawful conduct. If an employer chooses not to hire you on the basis of your gender alone, then they have broken both state and federal law, and you have the right to defend yourself from such illegal discrimination. Under California law, an employer is prohibited from refusing to hire an individual because of their gender. (Government Code §12940[a])
Sometimes, gender discrimination is built upon a subtler — yet equally unfair — line of thinking. Family status (i.e. how many children you have, whether or not you plan on having children, and, in the state of California, whether or not you are married) must not be taken into consideration by employers when they weigh the merits of potential employees. In fact, interviewers are not even allowed to ask you these types of questions.
If you are asked about family or marital status, you can invoke your right to keep such information private, and may have a claim under either federal law or the Fair Employment & Housing Act, which has more expansive protections than its federal counterparts. If you believe that this information (or your refusal to provide this information) has been used against you in the hiring process , then you have several options available to you. This includes contacting an experienced employment law attorney, the Department of Fair Employment & Housing, and/or taking legal action in order to preserve your rights.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
The state of California, unlike the majority of US states, offers strong protection against employment discrimination of LGBTQ people. Nonetheless, discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community does still occur — and studies have shown that the incidence of such discrimination is sometimes skewed more heavily against members of one gender than another. For example, a certain employer might tend to discriminate against lesbian job candidates but not gay job candidates, whereas another employer might do the exact opposite. For this reason, all employees should be attentive to all types of professional discrimination against themselves as well as their fellow employees so as to insure both a more harmonious and diverse workplace and overall society. If you suspect that you are a victim of gender discrimination, it is important to speak up for your rights, or contact an employment attorney for advice on how best to respond to the situation. . may a victim, you should speak up, regardless of what the experiences of your coworkers might otherwise imply.
Promotions and the Pay Gap.
The ethical notion of “equal pay for equal work” has been federally mandated ever since the Civil Rights Act of 1963 — yet women still earn an average of just 79 cents on the dollar for what men earn. Though a portion of this discrepancy can be attributed to differing professional and lifestyle choices, there is no doubt that a sizable percentage does indeed originate from violations of the equal pay clause. (As thousands of annual wage gap lawsuits in the state of California alone clearly demonstrate.) Fortunately, California has expanded the protections with respect to wage equality by way of the California Equal Pay Act and the California Fair Pay Act.
Additional Gender Discrimination Issues.
Workplace harassment and bullying — whether sexual in nature or not — is another issues that tends to affect women disproportionately. Again, it is important for employees to speak out against such reprehensible conduct, particularly because your employer is required to take the reasonable steps necessary to create a workplace environment free of discrimination and harassment. (California Government Code § 12940[k]) Finally, Moreover, wrongful termination lawsuits for qualified women who were cut from the payroll due to nothing more than their gender also abound nationwide. If you are interested in learning more about any of these topics or your valuable rights as an employee, then we encourage you to visit the he Perrin Law Group wrongful termination webpage, and to keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post on workplace professional harassment and bullying.