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Everything You Want To Know About Gender Discrimination At Work


The terms gender and sex can be used interchangeably. However, these terms have different meanings. The term “sex” is used by social scientists to refer to an individual’s anatomical or biological identity, and the term “gender” refers to the collection of characteristics that, as a society, are generally associated with maleness or femaleness. Ultimately, regardless of whether it is based on an individual’s sex or gender, discrimination based on either of these characteristics is illegal.

Gender Discrimination Explained

Sex Discrimination And Gender Identity Discrimination

What About Gender Or Sexual Harassment

Gender Discrimination Explained 

Gender discrimination basically means that an employer has treated an employee differently specifically because that individual is a man or a woman. If an employee was rejected for employment, fired, or harmed in the course of their employment because of their gender — or perceived gender — it’s likely that he or she has suffered gender discrimination in the workplace.

In the vast majority of cases, gender discrimination tends to happen to female employees. Below are several examples of potentially illegal instances of gender discrimination that women face in the workplace:

  • Pay. 1) You are thrilled because after years of working as an apprentice in a bakery you are finally a full fledged baker. Recently, another male baker with comparable work experience is hired to work alongside you, but he is getting paid more than you. 2) Or maybe you are one of the most successful salespeople at your solar power company, but are inexplicably transferred to an area that is known to yield poor sales. Meanwhile, a new salesman with sales that are much lower than yours is handed your entire client base and territory. Now, the new salesman is making much more in commissions than you are.
  • Hiring, Firing, Promotions. 1) You applied for a management position at a bank that you are very qualified for. However, you are not offered the position because it is well known that most of the bank’s clients prefer doing business with men. 2) Or perhaps you were laid off after your company restructured, and several men in the same position as yours, albeit with less experience, were able to keep their jobs. 3) Finally, maybe you are a stellar employee at your law firm. For the past three years, you were honored as employee of the year. Naturally, you’ve applied for promotions throughout those three years, yet were passed up every time, while your sought after benefits went to less qualified male employees.
  • Benefits. Your employer’s health insurance does not offer coverage for your spouse because they assume he has his own benefits. On the other hand, all your male coworkers’ wives are covered by your employer’s health plan.
  • Job Classification. Before having your first child, you worked at a real estate company for five years. You worked hard and put in countless hours of overtime, cementing your reputation as one of the hardest working employees at your firm. Once you had your baby and came back to work, you inform your employer that you could no longer work as many extra hours. In response, your employer demoted you and cut your pay. Meanwhile, other male coworkers who are working in similar positions as you are allowed to work less overtime hours, and are also accommodated for personal reasons.

Sex Discrimination And Gender Identity Discrimination

The phrase “gender identity” specifically refers to a person’s self-identification as a man or a woman. In most cases, a person’s gender identity matches their anatomical sex. In other words, individuals born with male physical characteristics typically will identify as men. And individuals born with female physical characteristics will identify as women. There are, however, instances when gender identity does not align with anatomical sex. This means that for transsexual individuals, their gender identity and anatomical sex do not necessarily match up.  

For example, an individual can be born male, but may strongly see themselves as a woman and will self-identify as a woman. And vice versa: an individual who was born female may have a strong internal self-image as a man and may self-identify as such. There are many transsexual individuals who seek hormone therapy and or surgery to help match their physical sex with their gender identity, but this won’t always be the case.

The term “transgender” is often used as a broad way of describing anyone who does not conform to gender stereotypes when it comes to their gender identity or gender expressions. Transgendered people typically must deal with serious instances of discrimination in the workplace because they do not conform to traditional stereotypes or gender roles.

It wasn’t long ago that courts across the board held the position that transsexual people were not entitled to protections under Title VII (the law that makes sex discrimination illegal). Recently, courts have decided that transsexual persons are entitled to protections against discrimination under Title VII, as well as any other applicable sex discrimination laws.

What About Gender Or Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a very common form of sex discrimination which is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII does not actually use the phrase “sexual harassment,” but courts have long held that sexual harassment is an illegal form of sex discrimination. 

Examples of sexual harassment include: 

  • Requests for sexual favors.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature 

The above examples are all common instances of sexual harassment because they explicitly or implicitly and unreasonably affect or interfere with an individual’s performance at work. Such behaviors may also subject victims of discrimination to a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment.

Gender based harassment is another type of illegal, sex based harassment that is not of a sexual nature. A common, albeit terrible example of gender based harassment is an employer who is known to make derogatory comments about female employees by referring to them as “bitches.”

What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?

If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The gender discrimination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling gender discrimination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.

We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a gender discrimination attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.


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