Understanding Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
Gender discrimination is an employer’s unfair treatment of an employee or applicant based solely on the individual’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation as it relates to hiring, benefits, leave, terminations, or promotions. Luckily, there are both state and federal laws in place that protect victims of this type of employment discrimination, and a New Jersey gender discrimination lawyer can help you understand your rights and options.
From our offices in Red Bank, NJ, and Marlton, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. represents both employees and employers throughout the state in a wide range of employment discrimination matters, including gender discrimination. Our attorneys will provide you with a clear and candid evaluation of any potential claims, as well as all legal options available to you.
Protections Under The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD)
New Jersey takes gender discrimination in the workplace seriously. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects New Jersey employees from discriminatory hiring and employment practices based on gender, as well as other forms of discrimination that may be related to gender, including:
- Familial Status
- Marital Status
- Domestic Partnership
- Civil Union Status
Federal Laws Against Gender Discrimination
In addition to New Jersey law, gender discrimination is a violation of civil rights and is therefore covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These protections include fair and equal treatment in the workplace and a ban on sexual harassment. Illegal sex discrimination includes treating an employee or applicant differently based on pregnancy, childbirth, or other gender-related issues.
Federal laws also provide broad protections against gender discrimination. These laws work to prohibit discrimination based on gender or perceived gender in a variety of situations. Laws include:
- Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII – Protects against gender discrimination in the workplace.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act – Protects those who are or plan to become pregnant against discriminatory actions by employers that may involve reduced hours, demotions, issues regarding medical leave, and more.
- Family and Medical Leave Act – Gives employees the right to take time off for maternity leave or for their own or a family member’s illness.
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 – Sets the standard for equal pay for equal work.
- Fair Housing Act – Protects against discriminatory acts in sales, rental, or finances in housing based on gender.
- Equal Credit Opportunity Act – Guarantees credit applicants will not be judged on the basis of gender.
- Title IX of the Civil Rights Act – Added in 1972 as an effort to require educational programs in respect to gender identification.
What is Considered Gender Discrimination in New Jersey?
Gender discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, and can occur between an employee and an employer, coworker, or client, even if they are the same gender as the employee. Common examples of this type of harassment include the following actions based on gender:
- Termination or Demotion
- Failure to Recruit or Hire
- Differential Treatment or Pay
- Withholding Training, Promotions or Career Advancement
- Being Subjected to Harassment or Increased Scrutiny
- The Existence of a Hostile Work Environment with Severe and Pervasive Harassment
- Terminating or Disciplining an Employee in Retaliation for Making a Complaint
Sexual Harassment is a Form of Gender Discrimination
Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance or request for a sexual favor, along with other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that affects a victim in his or her workplace. This includes actual or implied threats to employment status, denial of promotion, or cutting wages or hours in the event the victim does not submit to the sexual advances. Sexual harassment also includes instances when a coworker harasses an individual in such a way that it affects their ability to work or creates a hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment laws protect against two common forms of sexual harassment:
- Quid Pro Quo. A quid pro quo scenario typically involves an unwanted sexual advance by a manager or other supervisor towards another employee. Because the person making the advance is often in a position of authority over the victim, it may be understood, whether stated or implied, that submission to those advances will result in a better position, better pay, more hours, or other favorable aspect of employment status.
- Hostile Work Environment. Sexual harassment can contribute to a hostile work environment when jokes, threats and other inappropriate behavior intimidate a worker in such a way that the victims is unable to perform their job duties, or feels unsafe or uncomfortable at the office. Both scenarios are considered illegal under state and federal laws.
Gender-Based Assumptions in the Workplace
Sometimes gender discrimination is based on one’s ideas of traditional gender roles or sexual stereotypes. When this is the case, management might assume the abilities and ambitions of one sex, while further assuming a person of the opposite sex does not share those same qualities. For example, a manager of an employee who becomes pregnant may try to phase the woman out of her current position, not because she is unsuited for the job, but because of the manager’s own biased opinion that a woman’s place is in the home. Another example is deciding not to hire women for high management positions, assuming they will not be able to achieve respect among male employees.
Representation and Guidance for Employers in Discrimination Cases
For employers, the key to successfully resolving gender discrimination issues is by taking proactive measures to prevent, investigate, address, and defend possible claims. Our law firm provides legal guidance to employers in a variety of situations, from defending against a discrimination claim to creating policies that will reduce the risk of future incidents.
What Should I Do If I Have Been the Victim of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?
If you believe your employer, coworker, or other work associate has discriminated against you based on your gender, you should contact an experienced gender discrimination lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. first to discuss your rights and options – which may include internal complaints or a lawsuit. Our law firm will help you every step of the way in seeking justice for unlawful gender discrimination in the workplace.