Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

 

There are various laws to protect employees against discrimination on the basis of their gender.

These laws make it illegal to discriminate within the various forms of compensation, such as salary, bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, vacation time, life insurance, holiday pay reimbursement policies and any other benefits offered.

 

Equal Work Deserves Equal Pay

The aim is to ensure that the same establishment pays men and women equally for the same amount of work.

Focus is on the content of the job and not the title when determining if gender discrimination has taken place.

Despite these laws, however, gender discrimination in the workplace remains quite common.

Increasingly, so are lawsuits to fight against such discrimination and when victims are successful, they often get meaningful compensation.

Below are some articles on Gender Discrimination & Gender Bias.

Hostile Work Environment...where nothing grows

Definition: What is Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?

Treating a person unfavorably in the workplace because of their sex is by definition gender discrimination.

It can occur when the person is applying for a job or is already an active employee; neither of which is OK. 

Defining workplace gender discrimination in theory might seem straightforward, but in reality it can be a grey area with a lot of subjectivity.

In some respects, what is seen as discriminatory is more a matter of perspective than reality.

In other words, while you may see something as gender discrimination, your colleague may see it as a reasonable action.

This is why at the end of the day, we rely on the courts to determine what is or is not discrimination.

This can make accusations and the handling of gender discrimination allegations challenging to say the least.


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Gender Discrimination Vs. Gender Bias

 

Although Gender Bias is often used interchangeably with Gender Discrimination, there is a difference.

Gender Bias is having a preference towards a particular sex. Sometimes referred to as Sex Bias, some people prefer one gender or sex over the other when it comes to social settings or work environments. 

You can either be bias towards a particular gender or bias against a gender.

Example: A male could be bias against female co-workers and therefore prefer to work with other males. This bias can lead to gender discrimination if that male is the manager or owner of the organization.

Women Discrimination / Female Discrimination in the Workplace

Although this page discusses Gender Discrimination for both males and females, the majority of gender discrimination in the workplace is against females who continue to fight for Equal Pay for Equal Work.

Discrimination against women in the workplace often results in a lower salary when compared to the salary of men doing the same job. This type of discrimination is referred to as wage discrimination which can often be the result of managers having a prejudice against women.

Data & statistics related to women in the workplace : United States Department of Labor

Male Discrimination in the Workplace

Male discrimination in the workplace does occur and can often be the result of a bias towards females or bias against males.

In particular, patients in hospitals, medical offices and nursing homes may have a bias towards female nurses who are often seen as more caring and nurturing.

As a result of this bias towards female nurses, male nurses may not be considered for new positions or work opportunities leading to less training opportunities and career development.

A Literature Review by the Journal of Professional Nursing looked specifically at “Gender Discrimination and Nursing” providing the following conclusion:

There is a need to revise nursing educational programs, at least those that seem gender-biased, in order to provide equal training opportunities to all nursing students, develop a climate of acceptance and empower male nursing students both in the nursing school and clinical field, and thus empower the career development of male nurses


 

Examples of Gender Discrimination & Gender Bias

Gender discrimination and gender bias can manifest in a multitude of ways; some are easily discernible, but some are alarmingly subtle.

Discrimination based on gender is a form of prejudice, which is prohibited under the law, but it often occurs and many employers and employees are ill equipped to handle it. Even victims of it may not be aware they are victims. 

A search of EEOC Discrimination Cases shows that gender is one of the most common grounds of discrimination.

Below are just some examples of potential gender bias you might encounter in the workplace.

1. Discriminatory Pay

This is one of the more obvious examples of gender discrimination in the workplace, but continues to be a challenge to eradicate from the workplace.

It remains a hot topic in political debates, but women are regularly paid less money to do the same job.

This is particularly evident when it comes to job offers.

Women have been known to get lower offers because employers bank on the fact that they will be less inclined to counter the offer or bargain.

It can also be seen with smaller or less frequent raises.

2. Interview Questions

The interview process should be similar for both genders, but women are frequently expected to field different types of questions.

Women are often asked if they have children or if they intend to have children.

These types of family questions are illegal, and more importantly have no bearing on a person’s ability to do a job well.

However, many employers predicate hiring potential employees on the notion that they might need to utilize maternity leave.

3. Position Bias

Many positions have become synonymous with the gender of a person.

For example, secretaries and receptionists are almost always women.

It should not matter what gender a person is, but instead their qualifications and skill set should be taken into consideration.

The gender that has traditionally filled a position needs to become irrelevant in the hiring process so that all qualified applicants can be considered for the job.

 

4. Terminations

All too often, terminations are handled with gender bias. It can be especially prevalent in male dominated industries where sexual harassment is not taken seriously.

There are cases of women who have complained about gender bias and found themselves unemployed.

The number of EEOC Wrongful termination settlements provides some indication of the seriousness of the issue.

There are also men who have committed sexual harassment that get a pass from their male superiors.

5. Promotional Bias

Glass ceilings are undoubtedly still a thing in today’s society.

Many women feel that the ladder for them only goes so high in the working world.

There are various reasons for this; having children being the main one.

Increasingly, companies are being taken to task for gender discrimination and victims are finding it easier to have their claims heard and upheld.

If you think you have been a victim of gender discrimination, don’t let fear hold you back.


 

How to Prove Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

When it comes to proving an employer intentionally discriminated against an employee, there are two types of evidence that can be used to prove it.

There is direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.

1. Direct Evidence

Not surprisingly, direct evidence is the most effective way to prove that discrimination took place.

This can include direct statements from managers or supervisors  which constitute gender discrimination.

Try to create some kind of paper trail by organizing emails or written information that could be used against the accused.

A great tool like Forensic Notes serves that purpose really well.

It helps if you can clearly highlight some kind of pattern to implicate their biased actions.

Maintain a Portfolio of your Work

It also helps to maintain a portfolio of your work to demonstrate that the quality of your work has not wavered.

This is especially important when the gender discrimination claim pertains to promotions or hiring decisions that you feel you were passed over for due to your gender.

How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment

How to Prove Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

In order to prove Gender Discrimination, you should following these 5 steps:

1. Use Your Company's Internal Complaint System
2. Obtain Evidence of Company Awareness
3. Take Note of Witnesses
4. Research the Laws Applicable to Your Situation
5. Seek Legal Advice

For detailed information on the steps for proving Gender Discrimination, follow the steps outlined within our "7 Steps : Proving a Hostile Work Environment" article. 

2. Circumstantial Evidence

As helpful as direct evidence is when making your case, it can be quite difficult to obtain.

Many superiors in the workforce that engage in gender discrimination are typically sophisticated when it comes to covering their tracks.

Therefore, many employees are forced to rely on circumstantial evidence to create the assumption of discrimination.

Examples to help your case can include, suspicious timing of the adverse action, another group received systematically better treatment and evidence that a less qualified person in a different group received the promotion.

In addition to this, educate yourself about your rights in the workplace, including what discrimination is and how you can fight it. 

Sometimes discrimination cases are settled out of court through arbitration or mediation, with the victim getting some undisclosed compensation. 

The amount to ask for in discrimination mediation is dependent on the facts of the case of course, but figures for employment discrimination settlement amounts show that compensation can be substantial.  


 

How to Report Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

4 Useful Tips for Reporting Gender Discrimination:

1. Before Reporting, Evaluate the Situation

Spend some time evaluating the situation as a whole before taking any steps to report the gender discrimination. 

If you have any doubts about the situation, or if you are not sure that you are being targeted specifically, find someone to speak with.

Venting or getting advice from a third party that is unaffiliated with your workplace is a good route to choose.

An unbiased assessment may help you get a clear take on things, and perhaps help make the next steps seem less daunting.

2. Document Everything!

Once you are certain that going forward is the best option, start to document as much as you can as explained above.

Any detail you can recall is worth writing down before you file your official report. Dates, times, emails and locations should all be a part of your documentation of any and all volatile behavior towards you while at work.

Forensic Notes is really useful for doing this, and takes the guess work out of what to store and in what format.  

Certainly do not write or type any of this information at work where it could get into the wrong hands unless you are typing it into a secured web application like Forensic Notes.

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3. Determine Who You Should Speak To

If your manager is not the culprit, they should be the first line of defense that you report your gender discrimination accusation to.

But in the event that your boss is the offender, just head straight to Human Resources. The HR department should take reports of this nature seriously.

They need to be aware of gender discrimination to protect against low morale and higher employee turnover rates.

Once you head to HR, present your case in a constructive way instead of whining and complaining.

Remember that there are multiple perspectives to every situation. Be clear, concise and composed during the meeting.

4. No Resolution? Seek Legal Advice

Lastly, if your company resolution system does not work, speak to a lawyer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or other knowledgeable person who can help you.

Give them all the information they need in order to help you.

Can I Sue for Workplace Bullying

Can I Sue for Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?

Employees can sue for Gender Discrimination in the workplace. However, despite gender discrimination laws, discrimination in the workplace remains quite common.

Increasingly, so are lawsuits to fight against such gender discrimination and when victims are successful, they often get meaningful compensation. 

To be successful in their claim, employees should keep detailed records of any instances of gender discrimination to serve as proof and follow human resource guidelines if available.

Hostile Work Environment...where nothing grows


 

 

Recent Examples of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

Gender discrimination has held many people back from fulfilling their career ambitions despite possessing the same ability to perform and succeed in their endeavors as counterparts of the opposite sex.

A search of EEOC Discrimination Cases shows that gender is one of the most common grounds of discrimination in the workplace.

There are various laws to protect employees against discrimination on the basis of their gender.

These laws make it illegal to discriminate within the various forms of compensation, such as salary, bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, vacation time, life insurance, holiday pay reimbursement policies and any other benefits offered.

The aim is to ensure that the same establishment pays men and women equally for the same amount of work.

Focus is on the content of the job and not the title when determining if gender discrimination has taken place.

Despite these laws, however, gender discrimination in the workplace remains quite common.

Increasingly, so are lawsuits to fight against such discrimination and when victims are successful, they often get meaningful compensation, sometimes through discrimination lawsuit settlements.

Below are some articles on gender discrimination.

They describe some of the EEOC Discrimination Settlements that have been reached.

1. Ruby Tuesday to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

The EEOC filed a lawsuit against Ruby Tuesday that ended with the restaurant chain paying $100,000 and being forced to implement preventative measures in regards to gender discrimination.

The federal agency took issue with two male employees being denied the opportunity to work as servers in one of their busy resort town locations back in 2013.

Ruby Tuesday posted an internal announcement that said only females should be considered for the position.

The company defense said it simplified the concerns of having to house both genders in company provided housing.

However, these two males were denied the chance to be considered for the resort position solely based on their gender.

2. Microsoft Hit With Gender Discrimination Suit

Microsoft was hit with a lawsuit filed by a former female employee who claimed gender bias was prevalent at the company.

According to her, women at the company were being paid lower salaries and were not being given promotions.

The plaintiff worked with the tech giant for over seven years.

Her allegations claimed that Microsoft was paying equally qualified female technical employees less than similarly qualified men.

Furthermore, she argued that equally qualified men were being promoted over female workers, and women were regularly getting less favorable reviews.

These allegations were brought forth just a year after Microsoft CEO publicly expressed that he felt women in technology should not be asking for raises.

3. Harley Davidson Dealership to Pay $55,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination and Retaliation Suit

The Dudley Perkins Company, the oldest Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership in the US, agreed to pay $55,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

The EEOC’s suit charged that the San Francisco-based company refused to let a female employee work as a mechanic, while hiring less qualified men. 

Further, the EEOC said, Dudley Perkins fired her after she filed an EEOC sex discrimination charge.

4. Chipotle Ordered to Pay $600,000 in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Fast casual restaurant chain, Chipotle, was ordered to pay three former general managers $200,000 each after a federal grand jury found that the women were discriminated against and fired because of their gender. 

They felt they were all wrongfully terminated from locations labeled as low-performing restaurants.

Their former manager, a male, supposedly treated male general managers better, and the company did not adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act.

These women did receive similar or better performance evaluations while they were active employees.

The plaintiffs felt the former area manager was sexist, especially when he said, “There sure are a lot of overweight women working here,” and “you’re too emotional”.

However, the defense claimed that these women were fired solely due to poor performances.

5. FedEx Pays over $3.2 Million to Female Truck Driver for Sex Discrimination, Retaliation

The EEOC and a female plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Federal Express Corporation for violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and intentionally causing emotional distress.

She filed the lawsuit in 2002 when she was the only female tractor-trailer driver at a particular company facility.

In addition to the discrimination, she was subject to retaliation for speaking up while still on the job.

The plaintiff complained of frequent anti-female remarks and threats from her male co-workers.

Upon voicing her disgruntlement, the brakes on her truck were tampered with, and she was refused help with loading the truck.

Ultimately, the courts sided with her awarding her 3.2 Million in compensatory and punitive damages.

 


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