Sex Discrimination in the Workplace
Title VII prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace. This means that employers may not take an adverse employment action against an employee “because of” the employee’s sex. Thus, an employee’s sex cannot be a motivating factor in any employment decision, including hiring, transfers, promotions, pay, disciplinary action, suspensions, and discharges from employment. See EEOC-Guidance-Sex-Discrimination-Title VII.
In addition to Title VII, the Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work. When male and female employees perform jobs which require substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and are performed in similar working conditions, an employer must pay employees equally for the work. An employer, however, may be able to demonstrate that disparate pay decisions are based on a reasonable factor other than sex, such as merit, a seniority system, or a quantity system.
Although the rights and remedies in a sex discrimination case are similar to those of the other protected categories, such as race or national origin, Congress has passed some additional anti-discrimination laws to protect women in the workplace. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Although this doesn’t mean that pregnant women are entitled to special or preferential treatment, it does mean that pregnant women must be treated equally to non-pregnant individuals. For example, if a company gives extra leaves of absence to employees with medical conditions, they must extend this practice to pregnant women. The Family and Medical Leave Act also gives employees rights to leaves of absence necessitated by pregnancy or the birth of a child.
Although Title VII was originally understood only to apply to women, that is no longer the case. Title VII also prohibits sex discrimination against men. Thus, for example, when a male employee is denied a promotion in favor of a female employee, and the male can prove that the reason was “because of his sex,” he may have a claim for sex discrimination.
Sex discrimination also includes sexual harassment—creating a hostile environment for an individual based on his or her sex. This is just as actionable as firing a person because of his or her sex. For more information about sexual harassment, see our sexual harassment page. The law also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for complaining about sex discrimination or sexual harassment, or for participating in someone else’s sex discrimination or sexual harassment case. For more information about retaliation and retaliation claims, see our retaliation page.
Baird Quinn LLC’s sex discrimination lawyers have significant experience representing clients with respect to all aspects of sex discrimination in the workplace. If you require additional information about the various laws governing sex discrimination in the workplace, please call Baird Quinn’s Colorado sex discrimination lawyers to discuss these issues. You may obtain additional information regarding our Denver sex discrimination lawyers at the following link.