Over the course of the last 30 years, the number of opportunities for women in the workforce has increased drastically. Unfortunately, there are still a number of barriers for women (and sometimes men) to overcome in the workplace because of their gender. Gender discrimination is far from a thing of the past. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, the EEOC received over 24,000 complaints of gender discrimination. Those numbers indicate gender discrimination is one of the most frequent types of employment discrimination in our country.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as New York and New Jersey law, make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s gender. If you feel you may have been subjected to gender discrimination, it is important to know your rights.
What is not allowed?
An employer is prohibited from discriminating, on the basis of gender, with respect to the basic terms of employment. This includes hiring, firing, payment, advancement, and treatment of employees. Employers are also not supposed to make decisions in the workplace based on stereotypes and beliefs about the talents, traits, and characteristics of someone’s gender.
An employer cannot purposefully treat an employee unfairly because of the employee’s gender. For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire someone because of his/her gender. Other examples of disparate treatment could be denying an employee training, equal pay, or a promotion because of their gender. Disciplining of firing an employee because of his/her gender would also be considered disparate treatment.
Sexual harassment is another form of disparate treatment. An employer could be liable for sexual harassment if it fires an employee for refusing sexual advances. An employer may also create a hostile work environment by allowing repeated sexual advances to occur in the workplace.
Disparate impact refers to instances when an employer has a policy in place that appears to be objective, on its face. However, the effect of the policy is a disproportionately negative impact on one gender more than the other. The policy can still meet legal standards if the employer can show the policy is related to the job and validated by a business necessity.
Consider this example: If an employer hired employees based on height, the impact of the policy could be that the employer hires more men than women. If a person’s height is not connected to the job, and being a particular height is not a necessity of the job, the policy would probably be considered to have a disparate impact on women.
Employers are also not allowed to retaliate against employees who oppose gender discrimination. For example, an employer cannot fire, or discipline, an employee because that employee complains about gender discrimination internally, or reports gender discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If your employer has treated you unfairly because of your gender, our employment discrimination lawyers can help. Call us at (973) 509-8500 to schedule a free phone consultation.