What Is Gender Discrimination?

What Is Gender Discrimination

When employers treat employees unfavorably because of their gender, that different treatment is gender discrimination. Gender discrimination is prohibited by state and federal law, and this violation of civil rights may result in serious penalties for the employers who engage in it.

Gender discrimination is not limited to women. Men can also be victims as can people who are discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or transgender status. If you believe that you are a victim of this form of discrimination, the experienced employment law attorneys at Swartz Swidler may be able to help you.

Common forms of gender discrimination

There are multiple types of gender discrimination, including the following:

  • Employers refusing to hire applicants because of their gender
  • Employers paying members of one gender more than another
  • Employers firing people based on their gender
  • Employers promoting a member of one gender over a more-qualified member of another gender
  • Employers offering more benefits to one gender over another
  • Members of one gender being targeted with unwanted sexual advances
  • Employers treating women differently on the basis of pregnancy

The laws forbidding workplace gender discrimination apply at all stages of employment, including hiring, promotions, training, benefits, salary, layoffs, firings and others. All types of gender discrimination are illegal under the law.

How sexual harassment impacts discrimination claims

When people are victimized by workplace sexual harassment and hostile work environments, their rights to feel safe at work are violated. Sexual harassment and hostile work environments may be initiated by employers, supervisors, co-workers and others. Under the law, employers are responsible for ridding the workplace of harassment and to thoroughly investigate complaints. While an employee who harasses his or her co-worker may not be criminally prosecuted, most employers have internal consequences in place if their employees violate their co-workers’ rights.

Hostile work environments are another form of gender discrimination. They may be difficult to prove when they have been created. Repeated incidents may be considered as better evidence that they exist than one-time events.

Recognizing gender discrimination

Some people do not realize that an action is illegal gender discrimination. For instance, a female applicant may be unaware that it is illegal for employers to ask about her marital status during a job interview and then uses her answer in order to decide whether or not to offer her a job. If you recognize that an employer has committed an act of gender discrimination, it is important for you to talk to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler for guidance on how to respond. This can help to put an end to gender discrimination in the workplace for others as well.

Is it ever legal to discriminate based on gender?

In rare circumstances, employers are allowed to discriminate based on gender in hiring. For example, an employer who has a planned photo shoot for men’s clothing may choose to only hire men to wear the clothing during the shoot. Similarly, producers do not have to give female lead roles to men in movies or plays. These are exceptions and not what usually happens, however.

What to do if you have been a gender discrimination victim

If you feel that you have been a gender discrimination victim, you should first file a complaint internally according to your company’s established policy. If nothing is done or you are retaliated against, you can then file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In New Jersey, you can also file a complaint with the state’s Division on Civil Rights. In Pennsylvania, you can file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

It is a good idea to start by meeting with an experienced employment law attorney at Swartz Swidler. Your lawyer can help you with collecting and filing the evidence that you need to support your complaint. If you are granted leave to sue, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Make certain to keep records of the incidents that happen to you and save all evidence of it, including internal memos, emails, photographs and texts. This may help you to prove your case so that you might be protected against discrimination in the future.