Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination is Against the Law

Ever since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination on the basis of sex or gender has been illegal. Although the language of the law refers to sex discrimination, modern case law has established that gender discrimination is also covered. Under the Act, employers may not favor employees of one sex or gender over employees of another, and may not retaliate against workers who fight against sex or gender discrimination in the workplace. Although most cases involve men being favored over women, anyone can be the victim of sex or gender discrimination. You do not have to identify as female to bring a case if you have been discriminated against due to your gender. Sex discrimination also includes discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or transgender status.

Characteristics of Workplace Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination in the workplace is rarely overt—it may not be based on any official policy and employers are unlikely to state outright that they prefer one sex or gender over another. However, subtle biases against women are common, and men consistently receive more opportunities for workplace advancement. This creates a phenomenon known as the "glass ceiling," in which women find their access to positions of responsibility has been artificially limited. If you notice that your workplace consistently promotes less qualified male employees over female employees, or chooses to hire male candidates with less impressive credentials than female candidates, your employer may be violating the law. Workers who notice these patterns in their workplace and speak out may also be the target of retaliation. Threats, loss of benefits, demotions, transfers, excessive scrutiny of work, and termination are all considered adverse retaliatory actions and are in violation of the law.

It is not uncommon for female employees to receive less pay than male employees for doing the same work. According to a Pew Research study, the average female worker earned 84 percent of what the average male worker earned in 2020, and one out of every four women interviewed said they had earned less than a male coworker who did the same job. This type of pay disparity has been illegal since the Equal Pay Act became law in 1963. If you learn that you are paid less than a male coworker who has substantially similar responsibilities, your right to equal pay may have been violated. You can contact one of Austin Texas Employment Lawyers, P.C.'s Austin sex discrimination lawyers to proceed with filing a claim.

Sex discrimination in the workplace manifests in a variety of ways. As mentioned above, sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by law. Sex stereotyping and gender identity discrimination are also prohibited, as is discrimination based on transgender status. Pregnancy discrimination, where women who become pregnant face consequences at work, is not uncommon. Sexual harassment in the workplace is also often rooted in sex stereotypes and incorrect beliefs about men or women. It sometimes takes the form of "quid pro quo" harassment, where potential workplace advancement is linked to an employee's willingness to perform sexual favors. Although it is more common for women to be targeted by workplace sexual harassment, it is important to note that men can also be the victim of harassment in the workplace, and that anyone who has experienced harassment or discrimination is able to make a claim.

When Can You Bring a Claim?

If you work in the private sector, you could have anywhere from 180 days (under Texas law) to 300 days (under Title VII) to even 2 or 3 years (under the Equal Pay Act) to make a claim, depending on the details of your case. If you work for the federal government, you generally have only 45 days to complain to your agency's EEO office. These time limits are unforgiving, so you should contact our Austin sex discrimination lawyers immediately if you have been a victim of sex discrimination. If you think you've been discriminated against or retaliated against, or if you notice patterns of sex discrimination in your workplace, please contact us today. You can do so by filling out our contact form or calling our office at (512) 271-5527.

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