Know Your Rights in the Face of Gender-Based Discrimination

October 29, 2018

Gender-based discrimination is a rising issue in today’s workplace. Many employees are subjected to gender-based discrimination without knowing their rights and remedies they have in order to determine whether they should take legal action. Unfortunately, outdated gender norms and biases still exist in the workforce, which can result in unequal and unfair treatment of how women and minorities like transgendered individuals are treated at work. This type of treatment can be considered unlawful sex discrimination prohibited under federal and/or state law.

Without the help of the law, many workers would face insurmountable hardships at work. That’s why knowing your rights can right any wrongs that have been done to you.

What is Gender-Based Discrimination?

Gender-based discrimination is often known in terms of women’s rights. Women have suffered from the rigidity of gender norms in the workplace resulting in their unequal treatment by their male counterparts and superiors. Even in the U.S., women’s rights in the employment sector, especially in terms of unequal pay, have been a predominant topic. For instance, women are less likely to occupy executive positions and are less likely than men to be promoted in Fortune 500 companies.

However, gender-based discrimination in today’s workplace does not just extend to women’s rights. Men can also be subjected to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. The EEOC has acknowledged that sex discrimination/harassment and retaliation under Title VII in the Civil Rights Act extends to protect men, transgender individuals, as well as homosexual individuals.

Title VII and Gender-Based Discrimination

Title VII ensures that employees are entitled to a workplace free of gender-based discrimination, harassment and retaliation in all stages of employment, from hiring to firing, as well as with compensation.

in California, sex discrimination in regards to employment protects both men and women from workplace discrimination harassment and retaliation, and also covers categories of sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that homosexual employees and transgender employees specifically have a right to work free of discrimination and harassment in California.

Sexual Harassment And Retaliation Based on Gender

There are two main forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment that can be brought as a cause of action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The most common and most well-known type of sexual harassment is Quid pro quo sexual harassment, which is when an employer makes an employee engage in sexual intercourse or any other unwelcome sexual advances as a condition of employment. An example of this is when an employer refuses to provide a raise or a promotion to an employee unless he or she consents to sexual acts.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is a violation of both federal and California law. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment, as well as two co-workers of the same sex.

Hostile workplace sexual harassment was a new legal claim that was created to encompass all other types of sexual harassment that went beyond placing conditions on employment and that involved unwelcome sexual advances that were so severe and pervasive, it would prevent a reasonable person from properly fulfilling their job duties.

An employer is liable for this type of harassment, when an employee puts her employer on notice or complains about the harassment, but they fail to address it or put an end to it. An employee does not need to complain about the sexual harassment, in order for an employer to be liable, if the employee can show that the employer should have known about the harassment.

An employer is also liable for the actions of its supervisors, managers, or co-workers that commit sexual harassment against an employee. Also, an employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee for internally complaining about sexual harassment or for taking legal action for sexual harassment.

Under the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII, not only are employees protected against retaliatory action once they file a complaint or charge of sex discrimination, but they are also protected if they are involved in discrimination court procedures or hearings.

Gender-based Discrimination Against Transgender Employees

The civil rights of homosexual couples and other members of the LGBT community have been a predominant issue for the past two decades. Still to this day, many efforts are being made to equalize conditions at work for transgender and homosexual employees who experience discrimination in many states.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), is proposed federal legislation that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with at least 15 employees.

States, including California, have recognized the need for gender-based discrimination protection for transgender employees by amending current state laws. California and several other states have already enacted laws or who have proposed laws for review.

When protection is in place, transgender workers have the right to work free of differential treatment from other employees when being hired, fired and compensated as well as any other area of the employment process. Most gender identity laws also afford protection from harassment at work as well as protection from retaliation.

Knowing Your Rights in the Face of Gender-based Discrimination

These areas of protection are only a portion of the broad spectrum of rights that employees have based on gender at work. Gender discrimination extends far beyond sexual harassment and ranges from pregnancy rights to even lactation accommodations and maternity leave protections at work. If you think your rights have been violated based on your gender, contact the attorneys at Shegerian Conniff who will fight for your legal rights, and seek justice against your employer.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.