It is an unfortunate truth that gender discrimination commonly occurs in the workplace. Every worker wants to do their job comfortably without the fear that they may be unfavorably treated based on how they appear. However, this is far from the truth. Even though not all employers discriminate against their employees, there may be some that discriminate based on certain, and this can include gender. All forms of gender discrimination may occur in a working environment. Yet, it is most often female employees that experience this discrimination. In workplace culture, women are susceptible to unfavorable treatment. This can include not being hired, not being promoted, or even receiving less pay than a male counterpart.
In California, there are laws that prohibit gender, or any kind of, discrimination. There are also similar federal laws. These laws were created to ensure equal treatment any working environment, and to make sure that all employees receive the same opportunities that anyone else would. Yet, there are still situations in which an employee may still be discriminated against, and this may lead to an uncomfortable environment to work in for anyone.
If you have faced, or are currently facing, any form of gender discrimination at your workplace, we can help you. Stop Unpaid Wages is a law firm that specializes in employment law and is experienced at handling cases about gender discrimination. No one should have to deal with discrimination alone. Our expert lawyers can help you every step of the way with your case.
What Does Gender Discrimination Entail?
Gender discrimination is any type of discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sex or gender. Included within the definition are a couple of more distinctions that are different from the male/female binary. “Sex” can be made to include pregnancy, childbirth, childbirth, and any medical conditions that are related to these. Also, this includes an employee’s gender identity and gender expression. Gender expression is an individual’s gender-related appearance and/or behavior that may differ from that individual’s actual sex as assigned at birth. If an employer uses an employee’s gender as a basis to treat them less favorably, they may be accused of gender discrimination.
There are several types of actions that may be considered in gender discrimination claims. Under state and federal laws, it is unlawful for an employer to:
- Refuse to hire an employee,
- Terminate or discharge an employee,
- Refuse to select an employee for a training program, or
- Reduce an employee’s pay or benefits on the basis of their gender.
These are just some of the common ways in which gender discrimination may occur in the workplace. In California, it is also unlawful for labor organizations to exclude, expel, or restrict membership to any individual based upon their sex. Similar laws may apply to programs and various employment agencies.
- Elaine has been working for her company for over 20 years and has constantly applied for promotion. However, male co-workers have always been selected, and some with less experience than her. She questions her boss about this, and he says that men tend to work harder.
Most of the time, gender discrimination stems from an employer’s, or another individual’s, preconceived notions about gender as based on stereotypes. These types of notions are often based off of generalizations about certain qualities, performance, physical ability, habits, and productivity of male and female employees. Not every employee is the same, and these generalizations could potentially affect an employee’s career in significant ways.
In California, employees who occupy the same job with the same responsibilities must be paid equally. Gender discrimination often arises when one gender is paid less than the other to do the same amount of work with the same responsibilities. Unfortunately, women are often paid less than their male counterparts despite having the same duties. There are other specific laws within California that intend to minimize the disparity in how male and female employees are paid for their job.
- Steve and Monica both work the register at a local record store. They work the same hours and have the same responsibilities. However, Monica learns that Steve is paid more than double of what she is paid.
Overall, in terms of gender discrimination, it is unlawful for any employer to:
- Refuse to hire,
- Refuse to select for training,
- Refuse or deny a promotion,
- Reduce pay or salary,
- Deny equal pay,
- Deny reinstatement,
- Refuse pregnancy disability leave,
- Deny benefits, or
- Discriminate against an employee based on their gender in any possible way.
All of the actions described above may be the basis for filing a gender discrimination claim in California. They may also cause unforeseen hardship to the employee affected and, if so, they may claim damages along with the complaint.
Possible Gender Discrimination Incidents
Sometimes it may be hard for an employee to clearly identify a pattern of gender discrimination in the workplace. Most of the time, an employer will not flat out state that they discriminate against certain sex, or that they prefer a certain gender working for them or perform certain duties.
Possible scenarios that may indicate possible gender discrimination would include meetings in which only people of one sex are invited into a meeting, employees of a certain gender are more often promoted into higher positions, and making men and women perform different jobs.
Also, other signs of gender discrimination may include situations where an employer requires female employees to more revealing clothing for male clients, firing an employee for making a change in their gender identification, forcing pregnant women to quit, retaliating against employees for reporting incidents of gender discrimination, or making offensive comments towards a specific gender.
Gender discrimination may not be obvious at all times, and it can be hard to detect. Yet, if you feel that you have been treated less favorably due to your gender, or sex, then you may be able to file a complaint.
Gender Discrimination Laws
Gender discrimination is a serious issue, and there are several laws on the federal and state level that deal with it. On the federal level, some of the laws are some of the most important in the country’s history and have shaped how discrimination is identified and treated, especially in the working world. These include the Civil Right Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. On the state level, there is the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Equal Pay Act that are similar, but also provide more coverage and benefits in gender discrimination cases.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it is unlawful for an employer to commit the following employment practices:
- Failing or refusing to hire or discharge any employee based on their race, color, sex, or national origin, or
- Limiting, segregating, or classifying employees or applicant in a way that would deprive them of opportunities or negatively affect their status based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
This law applies to employers with fifteen (15) or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments. Title VII may also be applied to employment agencies, labor organizations, or any training program. This law provides an overview of discrimination in employment practices, and, in this context, the law specifically mentions sex as an illegal basis for determining employment status. Title VII is meant to limit the ways in which discrimination may determine an employee’s status and how they are treated in the workplace. In a sense, this law is meant to make employers focus on an employee’s experience and abilities rather than their appearance or characteristics.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963, or EPA, deals with equal pay in the workplace as its name suggests. Under this law, no employer may discriminate between employees on the basis of their sex with respect to their wages. An employer must pay his or her employees the same amount of pay for the same job with the same responsibilities and the same skills required—no matter what their gender may be. The law also holds labor organizations to the same rules. However, the EPA does allow for wage differentiation under systems such as a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures by quantity or quality of production, or any system on based upon an employee’s sex.
In California, the state has similar laws of its own that may include different specifications and broader definitions of what may be considered in gender discrimination cases. The first and foremost of California’s discriminations is the Fair Employment and Housing Act. This act makes it unlawful for any employer within the state to:
- Refuse to hire or employ,
- Refuse to select for a training program that would lead to employment, or
- Discriminate, in terms of compensation or in terms of privileges,
An employee because of their:
- Religious creed,
- National origin,
- Physical or mental disability,
- Medical condition,
- Genetic information,
- Marital status,
- Gender or gender identity,
- Sexual orientation, or
- Military or veteran status.
As one can see, this law is broader in reach and more wide-ranging than federal discrimination laws. Because of this, California is one of the best states to work in due to the many protections it has for its workers. For both the FEHA and the Title VII, it must be known that an employer is not prohibited from committing these actions against any individual if they are unable or unfit to complete the essential duties that the job requires. As with Title VII, California’s discrimination laws are applicable to labor organizations as well.
Similar to the federal Equal Pay Act, California’s Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying his or her employees less than employees of the opposite gender for the same amount of work with the same responsibilities and required skills. Yet, it is crucial to know some key points about this law. Employers are required to pay employees who perform “substantially similar work” equal. Also, this law makes it more difficult for employers to justify pay inequalities. More than this, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who have made a complaint about this issue, and it makes it illegal for employees to ban employees from discussing their pay. This law is strict in its terms and provides greater protections against gender discrimination when it comes to equal pay.
Together, all of these laws, both federal and state, provide a curtain of protections for employees against gender discrimination. As a whole, they are meant to discourage discriminatory practices in the workplace and to ensure that employees are treated equally and given equal opportunities.
Related Workplace Issues
Due to the broad nature of gender discrimination and the actions involved, there are several related issues that may be also taken up as a complaint or a lawsuit. Common related issues include pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and employer retaliation.
Sex discrimination includes areas such as pregnancy and childbirth. Since these are aspects of the female experience, this may be considered alongside gender discrimination if pregnant at the time of the incident. If an employee has been discriminated against due to their pregnancy, they may file a complaint about pregnancy discrimination. Under California and federal laws, this is still considered a serious form of discrimination, and there are even more specific laws dealing with pregnancy discrimination.
Usually, pregnancy discrimination includes being fired, not hired, not promoted, denied leave, denied accommodations, denied benefits, and more due to being pregnant. It is illegal to discriminate against a pregnant employee.
Sexual harassment is another closely related issue of gender discrimination. Since female employees are more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important to know how it differentiates from gender discrimination. First of all, whereas gender discrimination mainly applies to the employer, sexual harassment may be applied to an employer, a supervisor, or a co-worker. This means that another individual has made unwanted sexual comments, unwanted sexual advances, or has touched you in a sexual manner without consent.
There are two forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment. The former described situation where an employer, co-worker, or supervisor asks for a sexual favor in exchange for something related to the victim’s job status. This may include allowing an employer to touch you so that you are not fired. The latter form, a hostile work environment, describes scenarios where an employer allows other employees to sexually harass you continuously without attempting to stop it.
All of these may lead to serious consequences for the perpetrator. Also, it should be known that there does have to be any sort of damage received in sexual, or regular, harassment cases.
Since it is illegal to fire an employee due to their gender if it does occur it is considered wrongful termination. This type of offense simply describes incidents where an employee was terminated based on a discriminatory factor, such as gender—this is illegal. The basis for the termination needs to have been unlawful in order to be considered in these cases. If not, the victim does not have a case. If the victim only believed that he or she was fired for no real reason, it is not enough to be considered wrongful termination in California.
Sometimes employees fear that reporting any instance of gender discrimination at work will lead to their termination or any other type of unwanted repercussion. However, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee or employees, because they oppose workplace discrimination. An employer may not fire, demote, reduce pay, or make any other retaliatory action towards an employee for opposing harassment, opposing gender discrimination, reporting these incidents, filing a complaint, or assisting in an ongoing investigation.
If any sort of retaliation occurs because you have filed a complaint, or anything else, then you may be able to file another complaint about employer retaliation. This could potentially lead to another lawsuit that can be filed alongside a gender discrimination case or any other case.
Filing a Gender Discrimination Complaint in California
Gender discrimination is a serious violation of several laws. Once you believe that you have been discriminated against based upon your sex, you may file a complaint with either a federal or state agency before actually filing for a lawsuit. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is the federal agency that deals with employment discrimination complaints. In California, employees may take their complaint to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Usually, once your complaint has been filed with one of these agencies, it goes through an extensive process of paperwork and investigation in order to determine what steps should be taken to resolve the issue. However, you may be able to obtain an immediate right to sue letter with the assistance of an attorney. With this, the extensive process may be skipped.
The usual process of filing a complaint begins with an investigation into the claim and into whether or not laws were violated. With the DFEH, an investigation may last up to sixty (60) days. During this time, the investigator will discuss certain details of the incident. Your employer will be notified of the complaint and will provide information to the investigation. From this, the investigator will determine whether or not the case may proceed. If it does, they may set up a mediation type of meeting between you and your employer to reach a resolution on your own. Should this part of the process fail to produce a conclusion, your case may then be taken up in a court with a lawsuit.
Remedies for Gender Discrimination
By taking a complaint to the DFEH, or by filing for a lawsuit, an employee may ask for damages to remedy for the gender discrimination incident. It must be noted that the damages available from a lawsuit will vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the severity of the harm it caused. Possible damages may include but are not limited to, losses from:
- Back pay and front pay
- Higher income from a promotion or raise,
- Pension benefits,
- Any bonus payments,
- Legal fees
- Pain and suffering, and/or
- Emotional distress
Punitive damages may also be received depending on the details of the case. Usually, these are awarded if the employer in question has exhibited discriminatory behavior that was intentional and/or excessive. The employer would have to pay the employer this fine to make up for his or her behavior as described in the case.
Also, an employee may ask for their job back if they were terminated or forced to quit in an unlawful way. However, this may depend on the employee’s feelings about returning to the same job.
Finding a Gender Discrimination Lawyer Near Me to Help
Gender discrimination is a serious problem in the workplace culture. Even though there are plenty of laws meant to protect all employees from this form of discrimination, it can still occur every day. All employees deserve to feel welcome in their job and treated equally as everyone else. Yet, instances of gender discrimination still happen to many workers—male or female. More than just discomfort in a workplace setting, this discrimination can lead to more serious consequences for the victim. They could lose their job, lose their paycheck, or give up on their dreams due to unfair treatment. In the end, discrimination makes it more difficult to just have a regular job.
If you feel any of the issues described above apply to you, or someone you know, you can ask for help. Gender discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and retaliation are just some of the legal cases that Stop Unpaid Wages can handle. We pride ourselves in helping the workers of California with discrimination in the workplace cases. We know that discrimination can lead to unwanted suffering. Our lawyers will work tirelessly to provide top-notch legal assistance to any client. As expert lawyers, they will make sure your rights are protected as a worker. Call us today at 424-781-8411 so we can consult with you and get started as quickly as possible.