Gender discrimination (also sometimes called sex-based discrimination) occurs in the workplace where your employer treats you differently because of your gender. If you feel that you were fired, demoted, or faced other adverse actions in the workplace, you may have suffered sex or gender discrimination. The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination based on sex. This law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against individuals in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment, such as promotions, raises, and other job opportunities because of their sex/gender. The laws of most states also make it illegal to discriminate based on sex/gender, but some are broader than others. Title VII covers all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions that employ 15 or more individuals. These laws also govern private and public employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees controlling apprenticeship and training.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (“EEOC”) investigates claims of discrimination, including gender discrimination. According to the EEOC, sex and gender discrimination include discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status, and sexual orientation, although presently, laws vary widely by jurisdiction.
Here are some examples of potentially unlawful sex or gender discrimination:
- Gender biased comments made in hiring and firing decisions
- Disparate, unfair or unequal pay
- Discriminatory job classifications
- Negative performance evaluations
- Demotions or failure to promote
- Offering different benefits to you vs. your co-workers who are of a different gender
- Termination or refusal to re-hire
According to the Pew Research Center, about four-in-ten working women (42%) in the United States say they have faced discrimination on the job because of their gender. They report a broad array of personal experiences, ranging from earning less than male counterparts for doing the same job to being passed over for important assignments. One of the most significant gender gaps is in the area of income: One-in-four working women (25%) say they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job, one-in-twenty working men (5%) say they have earned less than a female peer. Women are roughly four times as likely as men to say they have been treated as if they were not competent because of their gender (23% of employed women versus 6% of men), and women are about three times as likely as men to say they have experienced repeated small slights at work because of their gender (16% versus 5%). There are significant gaps in other items as well. While 15% of working women say they have received less support from senior leaders than a man who was doing the same job, only 7% of working men report having a similar experience. One-in-ten working women say they have been passed over for the most important assignments because of their gender, compared with 5% of men.