From an academic standpoint, gender discrimination is still something of a nebulous concept. Researchers are working to understand why discrimination happens and how it affects both men and women across the world.
But from a legal standpoint, gender-based discrimination is fairly cut and dry. Gender-related discrimination occurs when someone is not given fair wages, benefits, and promotion opportunities on the basis of their gender.
Gender-based discrimination occurs on all levels of society and to both men and women. The reason for the unfair treatment might not seem obvious; in fact, some employers may state unrelated causes for their discriminatory policies. Even so, gender-based discrimination is a very real problem and is illegal in the United States.
Facts About Gender-Based Discrimination
- Gender-based discrimination can happen in any position. Whether you work in customer service or corporate management, you can still receive unfair wages and accommodations as compared to the other members of your organization.
- Gender-based discrimination can happen to anyone. Although most instances of gender discrimination involve women, anyone can be treated unfairly because of their gender. Both men and transgendered individuals have successfully litigated and won gender-based discrimination cases.
- You have the right to sue for gender-based discrimination. If you feel that you have experienced any form of discrimination, seek legal counsel immediately. The attorneys at West Coast Employment Lawyers have handled all kinds of discrimination cases and are prepared to help you seek appropriate legal action.
What Is Gender-Based Discrimination?
Gender-based discrimination occurs when someone's gender is used to determine the privileges and opportunities granted to them in the workplace. This kind of discrimination should not be confused with sexual harassment, although the two may frequently coincide.
Your employer is responsible for ensuring your fair treatment during all levels of the employment process. Discrimination may be related to:
- Hiring: Employers cannot make gender a requirement during the screening or application process.
- Firing: Employers cannot decide to terminate or lay off an employee due to their gender.
- Promotions: Employers cannot use someone's gender as an excuse to deny them a promotion or to choose their position within the company.
- Wages: All employees must be paid fairly in relation to their experience and contribution, regardless of their gender.
- Benefits: All employees must receive fair and equal company benefits, including health insurance and retirement funds.
- Accomodations: Employers must make equal and reasonable accommodations for all employees, including paid time off, granted leave, and social treatment.
It's important to note that gender-based discrimination can occur to members of either gender and can be perpetrated by members of either gender. A woman who only promotes women or who only promotes men is equally guilty of discrimination. A male manager who only gives bonuses to female staff members has committed gender-based discrimination, even if the women technically "benefitted" from the policy. Every employer must take steps to ensure that workplace policies are applied fairly to all members of their staff.
Why Gender-Related Discrimination Happens
The exact cause of gender-based discrimination varies on a case by case basis. Some organizations may practice discrimination on an institutional level. Discriminatory decisions may be made by biased managers. Members of a certain gender may simply not be considered for opportunities because of an unconscious preference for employees of the other gender.
One suggested cause for gender-based discrimination is a lack of representation. In a male-dominated industry, women may be thought to be incompetent or incapable of performing the tasks required for higher positions. In a female-dominated industry, men may be seen as invaders or as incapable of understanding the social dynamics of the workplace. When management is solely or largely comprised of one gender, the other gender may naturally see a decrease in the benefits and opportunities available to them.
Another potential cause for discrimination is societal beliefs. A 2017 study conducted in Pakistan showed that both men and women in that society believed that daughters were a burden, that women should not participate in decision making, and that women did not need to receive higher education. Although American society does not profess such values, many discriminatory decisions may be made because of an internalized belief that the two genders are fundamentally different and deserve different levels of treatment.
The Effects of Gender-Based Discrimination
The most obvious effects of gender-based discrimination are financial. If your workplace does not give you the same financial opportunities, you will not be able to move forward with your life in the same way as your colleagues. This can impact your living situation, quality of life, access to education, and plans for retirement. Victims of gender-related discrimination suffer undue financial hardship that can impact both their physical and psychological health.
Gender-related discrimination also causes conflict in the workplace. Employees who are not treated equally may feel at odds with one another. If one gender is devalued by management, other employees will notice, and their reactions - whether positive or negative - will not be conducive to a productive work environment.
Finally, gender-based discrimination is demotivating to those who experience it. Anyone who is treated unfairly on a consistent basis will not work as hard; this may then be used as justification to further deny them bonuses and opportunities. Other members of the workplace, whether they directly experience discrimination or not, will also feel less motivated and will inevitably decrease their output.
Gender-related discrimination affects everyone, not just the direct victims. A workplace that rewards and promotes employees based on their contributions will always result in healthier, happier, and more productive staff.
Handling Gender-Based Discrimination as an Employer
If you own a business or work in a management position, you can take steps to prevent gender-related discrimination in your workplace. Start by communicating with your human resources department; they may already be aware of discrimination issues that require your attention. They will also inform you of any specific discrimination statutes that exist in your city, county, or state.
Streamline your policy-making decisions so that an employee's gender and social status are not taken into account. Give raises and bonuses based on experience and performance, not based on personal like or dislike of an employee. Provide equal time off and benefits to all members of your staff. Make allocations for gender-specific requirements like maternity leave based on the suggestions of your human resources department.
If an employee files a formal complaint of gender discrimination, discuss the issue with both your human resources department and a legal counselor. An experienced employment attorney will help you navigate the issue and hopefully retain your employee.
Handling Gender-Related Discrimination as an Employee
If you believe that you have been subjected to gender-related discrimination workplace, take the following steps:
- Speak to a lawyer. The steps you take after discrimination has occurred may impact your later right to sue. Find a gender discrimination lawyer to help you handle the situation correctly from the beginning.
- File a formal complaint. A formal complaint is necessary to show that you took steps to address the situation with your employer. Speak to your human resources department first; this gives your employer an opportunity to correct the situation before it progresses.
- File a charge with the EEOC. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can offer general advice, help you file a charge, and launch an investigation into the incident. This step is necessary if you want to preserve your right to sue.
- File a lawsuit. If the EEOC issues you a Notice of Right to Sue, you may proceed with your lawsuit. Find an experienced gender discrimination attorney and pursue your case to completion.
If you believe that you have experienced gender-based discrimination, West Coast Employment Lawyers is here to help. An experienced gender discrimination attorney will review the details of your case and advise you on an appropriate course of action. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
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