The modern workplace has come a long way, with men and women typically being treated equally. However, gender discrimination does sometimes still happen.
The signs may not always be obvious, so it is important to understand what gender discrimination is, the rights you have under the law and what you can do if you believe you are a victim of gender discrimination.
Gender discrimination is an employee or job applicant being treated differently due to their gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. Gender discrimination is a valid form of discrimination, just like discrimination based on race or age.
Examples of gender discrimination
There are many different forms of gender discrimination. Some are more obvious than others.
Clear signs of gender discrimination include not being hired for a job, being paid less than someone of a different gender who performs the same job as you or being punished for something you did based on your gender.
More subtle signs of gender discrimination include being denied a raise, promotion or benefit because of your gender. You might also be the subject of name calling, hostile remarks or offensive statements based on your gender. The person making the remarks may try to pass them off as jokes, but they could be signs of discrimination.
Misgendering is another common form of gender discrimination. This happens when someone intentionally calls you by a name or gender that you do not identify with, such as calling you “Miss” instead of “Mister.”
More serious cases of gender discrimination include physical harassment or unwelcome sexual advances.
Gender discrimination does not need to come from a co-worker or manager. It can come from clients, customers or anyone you interact with during your workday.
Your rights against gender discrimination
Federal law prohibits gender discrimination in the workplace for employers with 15 or more employees. This means you have the right to work in a safe and healthy work environment free from discrimination.
If you believe you are the victim of gender discrimination, talk to someone about it. Do not keep quiet out of fear. Talk with your manager or supervisor and if nothing is done about it, talk to someone above them, such as a human resources manager.
Your reports should be in writing so there is evidence of your complaint. Keep copies of everything you say. Print out emails, in case your email account is later disabled and you cannot access any of your statements, which could be valuable evidence in a discrimination claim.
Ask for a copy of your personnel file. You have a right to see this file. Anything in this file, such as performance evaluations, employment history or pay history could also be used as evidence.
Acting against gender discrimination
If your employer does not address the discrimination, consider filing a claim with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting gender discrimination or participating in a gender discrimination investigation. Retaliation could be firing you, demoting you, reducing your pay or hours or giving you extra work.
Proving discrimination can be tough, since your employer can try to defend themselves by providing a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for their actions. Understanding what you must prove is essential to a successful discrimination claim.