Gender Discrimination


Under federal law, gender discrimination is prohibited. If you believe that you have been the victim of sex or gender discrimination, consulting a qualified attorney is highly recommended.

Defining Gender Discrimination

Gender discrimination, which may also be referred to as “sex discrimination,” occurs when a person or organization fails to treat people of different sexes, gender identities, transgender statuses or sexual orientations equally. In order to qualify as “unequal” for the purposes of a discrimination case, the treatment must be not only different, but also unfair.

Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

One of the most common arenas involved in gender discrimination cases is the workplace. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, gender discrimination in the workplace is prohibited. This law prohibits employers from:

* Discriminating on the basis of sex, gender identity, transgender status or sexual orientation when hiring new employees.

* Providing employees of different gender identities, sexes or sexual orientations with unequal requirements for employment, working conditions or salaries.

* Discriminating on the basis of sex, gender identity, transgender status or sexual orientation when selecting employees for promotions, giving out raises, awarding bonuses or offering any other job opportunity.

* Discriminating on the basis of sex, gender identity, transgender status or sexual orientation when selecting employees for layoffs.

This law applies to all private employers, state governments, local governments and educational institutions with more than 15 employees.

Of course, these things seem to happen to female employees more often than to male employees. However, the gender discrimination rules of Illinois apply to both genders. If you believe you have been the victim of gender discrimination in the workplace, as yourself the following questions:

* Are there different rules in your workplace for male and female employees in the same positions?

* Do you work more hours than your co-workers of the opposite gender? Is this extra work expected of you and not of them?

* Do people of your opposite gender get promoted more often and more easily than those of your gender?

* Do people of your gender make less money than those of the opposite gender, who work in the same position or level as you?

* Do you seem to be stuck in a lesser position than those of the opposite gender, yet you have the same type of degree and qualifications as them?

* Are there official groups at work that are open to only people of your opposite gender?

* Are you subject to sexual harassment at work, and your boss ignores it and/or is unwilling to do anything about it? Does your boss seem to encourage it?

* Do people of the opposite gender at work treat you with hostility, or differently in any way from those of your own gender?

* Have you been fired, not hired, denied a raise, or denied time off because you are pregnant or have just given birth or adopted a child?

Sexual Harassment

Federal law also prohibits harassment on the basis of a person’s sex, gender identity, transgender status or sexual orientation. This type of harassment is a form of sex discrimination. In many cases, sexual harassment takes the form of requests for sexual favors, unwelcome advancements and other verbal or physical actions that are sexual in nature. However, sexual harassment also encompasses offensive remarks or actions related to a person’s sex, gender identity, transgender status or sexual orientation that are not sexual in nature. For example, it is illegal to harass someone by making offensive or derogatory remarks about his or her sex in general.

Is it Ever Okay to Discriminate Based on Sex?

In very limited circumstances, employers can discriminate on the basis of sex when hiring a new employee. However, this is only permitted when the individual’s sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for the job in question. For example, if a company is hiring a model for a women’s clothing line, being a woman is an essential part of the job. In this case, the employer may refuse to hire men without breaking the law.

Other Applicable Laws

While gender discrimination in employment is illegal in Illinois, it is also illegal nationwide. There have been several high profile cases regarding gender discrimination in employment that went before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled that employers could not discriminate on the basis of pregnancy or new motherhood for women, and also ruled that gender can be a consideration in hiring, but not the sole consideration. With this second ruling, it basically means that if it is a highly physically demanding job that has traditionally been dominated by men, an employer may take a woman’s ability to perform the job into consideration, but may not avoid hiring a woman just because she is a woman in a traditionally male job. As long as she is able to do the job and has the correct qualifications, the employer cannot refuse to hire her.

In addition to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees are also protected from sex discrimination by:

* Family and Medical Leave Act – Under this law, employees have the right to take time off work to care for a newborn child, to care for a child they have recently adopted, to care for an ill family member or because of their own illness.

* Equal Pay Act of 1963 – This law requires employers to pay employees equally for equal work, regardless of their sex.

* Pregnancy Discrimination Act – This law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against female workers who are currently pregnant or intend to become pregnant.

Sex Discrimination Outside the Workplace

Sex discrimination is illegal outside of the workplace as well. Some of the laws protecting people from sexual discrimination include:

* Fair Housing Act – The Fair Housing Act prohibits people and organizations from discriminating on the basis of sex when selling, renting or financing housing.

* Equal Credit Opportunity Act – The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from discriminating against a credit applicant on the basis of his or her sex.

* S. Code Title 42, Chapter 21 – This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex with regard to federal services, access to buildings, access to businesses, education and more.

* Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – This law prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs.

Hiring an Attorney

If you believe you have been the victim of gender discrimination at work, contact The Wood Law Office, LLC in Chicago, Illinois. The office specializes in employment law. This includes discrimination cases. They will talk to you and discuss your options for moving forward with your case, even up to and including a potential lawsuit against your employer. You deserve equal treatment and equal pay. The Wood Law Office, LLC will make sure you get it.