Discrimination based on sex or gender is illegal according to a number of federal and state laws. When an employer treats someone differently simply because they are a woman or because they are a man, the employer is illegally practicing sex or gender discrimination. The discriminatory treatment can take on a variety of forms. For instance, an employee may be fired, demoted, lose a promotion, or take a cut in salary due to his or her sex or gender.

Throughout the law the terms gender and sex are used interchangeably. The main federal law that addresses sex discrimination is Title VII. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex as well as on the bases of a number of other protected categories such as race and disability. Beyond Title VII, state law and other federal laws provide yet another layer of protection from sex or gender discrimination.

Beyond Title VII

Two other federal laws address sex discrimination: the Equal Pay Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Equal Pay Act ensures that employers do not pay women different wages or salaries than other employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects pregnant workers. Both these laws and Title VII are enforced by a governmental agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

When an employee has been discriminated against based on sex or gender, the first step in making an official complaint based on federal law is to file a charge with the EEOC. The EEOC investigates claims of sex or gender discrimination filed under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. If the agency decides not to pursue an employee’s case, it issues a right to sue notice which gives the employee permission to file a sex discrimination lawsuit in court.

Sexual Harassment

Another form of sex or gender discrimination is sexual harassment. Under Title VII, sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, behavior of a sexual nature or even requests for sexual favors which significantly interfere with an employee’s ability to perform job duties or that create a hostile work environment. When the harassment is made a condition an employee’s employment, this is called quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Retaliation and Sex or Gender Discrimination

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against someone who complains about sex or gender discrimination. This means that whether an employee decides to file a grievance through the company complaint process, file a charge with the EEOC or other government agency or to file suit in court, an employer may not take adverse action against the employee in response to these acts.

Sex or Gender Discrimination is Illegal

Whether your employer is harassing you on the job because you are a woman or your have experienced unwelcome sexual behavior at work, these acts are illegal. When trustworthy, competent legal assistance is needed to address sex or gender discrimination issues, turn to Shegerian & Associates. Our experienced attorneys are standing by to assist you with the successful resolution of your case.