Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of an individual’s gender. Specifically, employers cannot use a person’s gender as a basis for decisions regarding who to hire or fire, nor can gender play a role in determining compensation, job title, job assignments, or other conditions of employment. These protections apply to both women and men. Moreover, discrimination is unlawful whether it is directed at members of the same sex or the opposite sex.
A variety of state, local and federal laws protect employees from sex discrimination. For example, the Fair Pay Act of 1963 makes it unlawful for an employer to pay men and women different wages for the same work. In some instances, state and local laws offer an even greater degree of protection; for example, in New York City, local law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, thereby protecting transgender employees from discrimination.
Notwithstanding the progress which has been made, and the related laws which have been enacted, studies still indicate that overall women still earn less than their male counterparts, and in many fields female applicants are less likely to be hired than male applicants. In many instances, even after a female employee is hired, employers make other work-related decisions based on gender, for example by assigning certain tasks to different employees based on gender stereotypes, and then, having assigned different tasks, use that as a basis for discriminatory decisions in determining what employees are paid, or who gets promoted. By including only certain employees in the most important strategic roles, the employer is in effect “stacking the deck” against those employees who are excluded.
In some instances, employers have also been held to be in violation of gender discrimination laws by choosing not to hire, or assigning different types of tasks to, women with young school-age children. These types of claims can be established by demonstrating that the employer treated male employees or applicants with similarly-aged children in a different manner.
Another important law in this area is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This law makes it improper for employers to discriminate based on an employee’s pregnancy or other related medical circumstances. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an employer must extend the same type of medical leave benefits to pregnant employees as it extends to other employees who may require a medical-related leave. Also under this law, the same benefits which are available to married employees must be made available to unmarried employees.
If you or someone you know feels they may have been discriminated against by their employer based on their gender, please contact us today at 212-828-2770 to arrange a consultation. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney should always be consulted so that all viable options can be explored. In many instances, our office will work on a contingency basis, so that the client will not be required to pay anything at all unless we are able to win a judgment or settlement on the client’s behalf.