Gender / Sex Discrimination
Under state and federal law, gender discrimination is prohibited in the workplace. In 1963, Congress enacted the Federal Equal Pay Act to guarantee equal pay for equal work among men and women. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides much broader protection by prohibiting all types of gender discrimination. In addition to unequal pay, unlawful discrimination under Title VII may include:
- Sexual harassment
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Wrongful termination
- Failure to promote
- Failure to provide training opportunities
There are certain statutes of which employees with caregiver responsibilities can avail themselves. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII in 1978 to guarantee equal benefits to pregnant women. Under the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act (M.G.L. c. 151B) and its own version of the Equal Pay Act, Massachusetts provides a similar range of protections to employees who suffer discrimination based on gender.
Gender Discrimination: Facts & Figures
Research indicates that, by conservative estimates, between 10% and 25% of America’s 40 million working women suffer some form of job discrimination every decade. Research also suggests that as little as 5% of the women who experience discrimination take legal action. In a recent poll conducted by The Wage Project, more than half of female employees who believed they had been treated differently based on gender reported taking no action due to fear of retaliation. Under both federal and state law, retaliation for reporting disparate treatment based on gender is illegal.
Gender discrimination can take on many forms, some more obvious than others. Certain traits that are perceived as positive in men may be perceived negatively in women, and women may face obstacles in advancement that men do not encounter. A woman who is better qualified may lose a position to her male counterpart.