It is no secret that women are discriminated against in the workplace. Whether discriminated against because of pregnancy or pay, women are held at a different standard than men. Fortunately, there are specific laws that protect women from this discrimination.
1) Pregnancy Discrimination. According to the EEOC, “Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth”. An employer may not treat a woman differently for being pregnant, and cannot fire her due to pregnancy. If a woman is unable to complete job tasks, her employer must make accommodations as they would for an employee with a disability. Pregnant women are also entitled to disability or unpaid leave in some cases.
2) The Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women receive the same compensation for performing the same job. This includes salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing, bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits. But, if unequal pay already exists, an employer cannot lower an employee’s wages to match that of others in the same position.
The Obama administration has said that women on average make 77 cents to every man’s dollar. But, the Pew Research Center has come out with a study suggesting that women make 84 cents to a man’s dollar. On top of unequal pay, there is a personality expectation of women in the work place. They are expected to be more passive than men, especially when it comes to money. According to Forbes, recent studies have shown that the majority of women who ask for pay raises do not receive them. In some cases, women have received different treatment after asking for a raise. In one study in 2007, women were found to be demanding because they asked for a raise. While men, not only receive the raise requested, but face no backlash after asking for one.
2) Sexual Harassment Claims. Women file the majority of sexual harassment claims. Although gender neutral, women are much more likely to face sexual harassment than men. If a woman feels uncomfortable in any way because of sexual remarks, inappropriate touching, etc., she is protected. Women or men may also face discrimination or harassment if they do not act in the expected feminine or masculine way. This type of harassment is protected by Title VII. But, there is a loophole in the prominent sexual harassment federal law, Title VII. What is not protected in all states, is if the comments are homophobic. These remarks are allowed in some states, but a smart employer won’t allow it.
It is unfortunate that most women do face some type of discrimination in the work place. From pregnancy discrimination, to backlash for being too demanding, women often have to deal with some type of harassment. But there are laws that protect women from such discrimination or harassment. It is important for women to know the laws that will protect them, and for employers to create a safe work environment.
Written by Danielle Brown, LegalMatch Legal Writer