Gender or sex discrimination refers to treating someone with less favor because of their sex. This can mean either job applicants or existing employees and can impact both men and women. Gender discrimination is not only unfair; it can have a strongly negative impact on your work environment or ability to advance at your job.

If you think your employer discriminated against you because of your gender, it’s important to know the law on this topic. When you know your rights, you’re less likely to let people mistreat you at work and likelier to have a positive outcome if it’s already happened.

The Law on Gender Discrimination

Is it illegal to discriminate based on gender? Both federal and state laws forbid discrimination in work places due to national origin, disability, sex, age, religion, color, or race. Employers also aren’t allowed to discriminate based on veteran status, family medical leave, or pregnancy.

Protected Activity

If you complain about discrimination, the law protects you against retaliation from the people you work with. Other protected activities include asserting your legal rights in the workplace and taking part in an investigation regarding supposed discrimination. Even if you aren’t the one who experienced the discrimination, you’re still protected if you’re involved in looking further into a complaint.

Laws based on Location

If your work place has fewer than 15 employees, some discrimination laws may not apply. The specific laws will also depend on where you live in the state. For example, Tucson not only prohibits gender discrimination but also discrimination based on your familial status. If you’re unclear on which apply to your specific work place, you can ask an employment law attorney.

Discrimination in Pay

It is illegal to pay someone less because of their gender? In 1963, John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act which was partially responsible for abolishing sex-based wage disparity. It mandates that employers aren’t allowed to give unequal wages to men and women working under similar conditions in positions of equal skill, responsibility, and effort. 

The law allows exceptions for unequal pay when other factors are present that aren’t decided by gender. These factors include seniority, merit, and the quantity and quality of work that the employee produces.

Types of Gender Discrimination

It may be difficult to identify what qualifies as gender discrimination and what doesn’t, as it can be subtle. Here are a few examples:

Refusing employment: Refusing to hire someone simply because of their gender would be an act of discrimination based on gender, as would denying monetary benefits or privileges for the same reason.

Differences in salary: Paying different genders a different salary when they have the same position, skill level, responsibilities, and qualifications is one example. Lowering the salary of one gender to make pay more equal between males and females at the workplace also counts as gender discrimination.

Firing or layoffs: If an employer fires someone and gives the reason that they needed to cut back on company spending, but people of the opposite gender with less seniority kept their jobs, this could be an example of gender discrimination.

How to Report Gender Discrimination

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) enforces federal laws to help lessen discrimination in work places. The commission investigates discrimination and harassment based on national origin, age, race, and other factors including gender. If you believe your employer discriminated against you, file a charge with the EEOC. 

Try to do so as soon as possible, as there are deadlines for filing (up to either 180 or 300 days). You can also file a complaint with the ACRD (Arizona Civil Rights Division) within 180 days of the day the discriminatory act occurred.

The Right to Sue

Can you sue your employer for gender discrimination? Yes. As soon as you’ve filed a charge through one of these institutions, the agency will conduct an investigation at no cost to you. They will then determine “Cause” or “No Cause” and issue you a “right to sue” regardless of what the investigation finds. 

Once you receive this letter, you have 90 days to file a civil suit. Keep in mind that you lose your right to sue after that 90-day period. Working with an experienced employment law attorney is a good way to make sure you do this correctly. Again, attacking this matter in a timely fashion is important since there are deadlines.

Other Examples of Workplace Discrimination

Workplace harassment is another form of discrimination and can include unwanted sexual comments, racial slurs, or demeaning jokes about your disability or religion. Firing or refusing to hire someone simply because of their color or ethnicity are further examples of workplace discrimination. If you suspect your employer has harassed or discriminated against you, but aren’t sure, a lawyer can help you figure it out.

Why does Gender Discrimination Happen?

What are the main causes of gender inequality? There’s no simple answer to this question. Although society has seen a lot of positive changes (including laws) that encourage more equality, discrimination still happens. It depends largely on personal biases, culture and traditions, and the specific individuals involved. 

Regardless of the cause or circumstance, employment discrimination is never okay. Co-workers and bosses aren’t legally allowed to treat you badly based on your gender or other immutable traits. Remember that if you file a complaint, you’re protected. It’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for reporting them or for helping a victim of discrimination at your work.

Need Help with Gender Discrimination?

Whether your employer terminated or harassed you based on your gender, you received fewer benefits, or something related, it’s important to take action as soon as you can. If you decide to file a lawsuit against your employer for gender discrimination, you may receive financial restitution, reinstatement at work, an apology letter, and other penalties. 

Although there’s no excuse for receiving discrimination in the first place, the way you choose to proceed can make a big difference for your future. Talk to one of our employment law professionals today to figure out what your next move should be.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

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